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    Team Postion Rankings

    Team DL rankings: Miami fourth
    Michael Harmon / FOXSports.com
    Posted: 4 hours ago

    My off-season fantasy caravan rolls on.

    This week, I'm stepping across the line of scrimmage and giving further inspection to the defensive units. Offensive players are scrutinized with every throw, run and passing route completed. It's high time that the individual components of defenses get their just due.

    Today, I'm examining the defensive lines of each NFL team. In addition to the straight personnel, I'm also evaluating the fantasy contributions we can expect heading into 2006. For example, the Browns and Broncos slide in this form of evaluation. While both are successful at cutting down on total points allowed, their overall contribution in other defensive categories were lacking.

    The defending NFC champions rise to the head of the class. With a ballhawking defense and an offense that will apply pressure of its own, the Seattle Seahawks lead my list of defensive linemen.

    1. Seattle Seahawks
    The Seahawks led the NFL with 50 sacks in 2005. Bryce Fisher and Rocky Bernard combined for 17.5 of those sacks and accounted for 76 tackles. Grant Wistrom provided solid pressure off the other end with 52 tackles and four sacks of his own. Of chief import here was Wistrom's ability to stay healthy through the course of the year. Marcus Tubbs also supplemented the efforts of Chartric Darby and Bernard when he rotated into the game. Tubbs added 40 tackles and 5.5 sacks of his own. Seattle is primed for another run to the top of the fantasy stats with this nucleus returning intact.

    2. Atlanta Falcons
    John Abraham got his wish and exited the Jets this off-season. He now pairs with Patrick Kerney to form one of the most formidable defensive end combinations in the game. And when you add the pressure applied by tackle Rod Coleman (10.5 sacks), the Falcons figure to terrorize opposing quarterbacks throughout the fall. The Falcons will count on Coleman and Chad Lavalais to stuff the run better than they did in '05, when Atlanta ranked 26th in rushing defense at 128.9 yards per game.

    3. Carolina Panthers
    The Carolina Panthers remained among the top defenses in 2005 with great pressure off the edges from Julius Peppers and Mike Rucker. The duo combined for 18 sacks and 94 tackles to boost the Panthers to fifth in overall defense. Carolina received great play from Maake Kemoeatu on the interior. He stepped up in the absence of Kris Jenkins, who played in only one game last season. Kemoeatu and Jenkins will team to protect the middle of the line and keep Carolina's lofty ranking in run defense (fourth at 91.6 yards).

    4. Miami Dolphins
    The Dolphins ranked second in the NFL last season with 49 sacks and return all four members of their defensive line. Jason Taylor remains the leader of the unit, and posted another double-digit sack total in 2005 with 12. Keith Traylor returns to thwart the running game up the middle. Traylor is paired in the middle with veteran defensive end-turned-tackle Vonnie Holliday, who tallied 52 tackles and five sacks of his own. On the end opposite Taylor is long-time NFL star Kevin Carter, who registered his highest tackle total since 1998 (53) and recorded six sacks.

    5. Chicago Bears
    The Bears return all starters from their top-ranked defense of 2005 (12.6 points per game). Chicago ranked 11th against the run at 102.3 yards per game and surrendered only nine touchdowns. Interior linemen Tommie Harris, Ian Scott and Tank Johnson handled the middle well, allowing Brian Urlacher and the top-notch linebacking corps to clean up plays at the line of scrimmage. Defensive ends Adewale Ogunleye and Alex Brown provided a consistent pass rush. Ogunleye and Brown combined for 86 tackles and 16 sacks.

    6. Jacksonville Jaguars

    Moving from Denver, defensive end Reggie Hayward improved Jacksonville's pass rush. (Doug Benc / Getty Images)

    Reggie Hayward boosted the Jaguars pass rush in the first year in Jacksonville. He collected 8.5 sacks to elevate the Jaguars to a tie for third overall (47). The Jaguars also ranked 14th in the league, allowing 106.8 yards per game while surrendering only four touchdowns on the ground. Marcus Stroud and John Henderson effectively clogged the middle with 113 tackles and former Chargers star Marcellus Wiley will be a bigger factor assuming he achieves a full season of health.

    7. New England Patriots
    The Patriots look to build off a strong finish to 2005, and the success of the 3-4 defense starts up front with Ty Warren, Vince Wilfork and Richard Seymour. Seymour was limited to 12 games last year and the Patriots still ranked eighth in the NFL at 98.8 rushing yards allowed per game. Wilfork grew into his role in the second year of his career and effectively worked the center of the line. To add depth to the group, the Patriots acquired Johnathan Sullivan, a former No. 1 pick of the New Orleans Saints.

    8. Indianapolis Colts
    Indianapolis rose to second in total defense last year on the strength of a persistent pass rush (their 46 sacks tied for fifth) and a solid rush defense (110.7 yards per game). Defensive end Robert Mathis racked up 11.5 sacks, narrowly besting Dwight Freeney by one-half of a sack for the team lead. Tony Dungy found the defense he'd been seeking, effectively utilizing the Mathis/Freeney combination alongside Raheem Brock, Corey Simon and Montae Reagor.

    9. New York Giants
    The Giants possess two of the game's best defensive ends in Michael Strahan and Osi Umenyiora. The duo combined for 26 sacks a season ago. However, injuries and ineffectiveness in the defensive backfield forced the Giants down to 27th in pass defense (224 yards per game and 20 touchdowns). The duo effectively works to push action back to the middle where William Joseph excels. The Giants ranked 12th against the run at 103.5 yards per game. New York addressed their future in this year's draft as well, selecting defensive end Barry Cofield from Northwestern in the fourth round.

    10. Philadelphia Eagles
    Injuries absolutely crushed the Philadelphia defense in 2005. The perennial defensive powerhouse slipped to 27th in total defense at 24.3 points per game. At a glance, the biggest issue was the lack of a pass rush. Philadelphia ranked 26th in the NFL with 29 sacks. They'll look to re-establish their place at the top with former Saints star Darren Howard (11 sacks in 2004) joining Jevon Kearse, Mike Patterson and Darwin Walker.

    11. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
    He doesn't rank up fantasy stats of his own, but Anthony McFarland plugs the middle effectively and allows for Tampa Bay defensive ends to shine. He and Chris Hovan effectively worked the interior line in 2005, helping the Buccaneers to rise to 6th in the league in rushing defense at 94.7 yards per game. Greg Spires and Simeon Rice formed a formidable duo on the edges, combining for 18 sacks (14 by Rice) and 67 tackles.

    12. Pittsburgh Steelers
    The Steelers ranked third in the NFL last season at 16.1 points per game. As always, the Pittsburgh defense was predicated on stopping the run. Generally, if you run the ball well, you can stop it. The Steelers allowed 86 yards per game and 10 touchdowns on the season. The big force in the middle is Casey Hampton, who tallied a career high 42 tackles in 2005. Aaron Smith saw his sack total decrease last season, but he effectively sealed the edge to allow the linebacking corps and Troy Polamalu to finish off plays.

    13. Cincinnati Bengals
    The one glaring issue in the Bengals rise to prominence in 2005 was the lackluster play against the run. Cincinnati ranked 20th at 115.6 yards per game and allowed one touchdown per game. To that end, the Bengals added veteran defensive tackle Sam Adams from Buffalo to plug gaps inside alongside John Thornton. Justin Smith has averaged nearly seven sacks per season in five years with the Bengals. Consistent pressure from Smith and Robert Geathers (and the high-powered offense) yielded piles of interceptions in 2005.

    14. Baltimore Ravens
    Ray Lewis campaigned all off-season for help on the defensive line. Baltimore responded by trading up for University of Oregon defensive tackle Haloti Ngata and signing former Broncos standout Trevor Pryce. Ngata provides a big frame and quick feet to take on blockers and free Lewis to make plays. Pryce has long been a star for the Broncos, averaging eight sacks per full NFL season. He'll be counted on to provide pressure alongside Terrell Suggs, who has become a star in his own right. Suggs piled up 30.5 sacks in the last three years.

    15. Green Bay Packers
    The numbers for the Packers are somewhat deceiving. The Packers tied for 19th in total defense at 21.5 points per game, but ranked 23rd in rush defense at 125.6 yards per game. Aaron Kampman and Kabeer Gbaja-Biamila combined for 14.5 sacks, but the inconsistency of the pass rush and a porous run defense led to 22 touchdown passes allowed. To help close the gap and shore up the run defense, the Packers added Ryan Pickett from the Rams. Pickett piled up 65 tackles from the nose tackle position last season.

    16. Arizona Cardinals
    Star defensive end Bertrand Berry missed half of the 2005 season, which served to expose the youth in the defensive secondary. Though Arizona ranked in the top 12 in both rushing and passing defense, the Cardinals allowed 39 touchdowns (22 rushing, 17 passing). The return of Berry to the defensive line will allow the Cardinals to apply more consistent pressure on the quarterback with Chike Okeafor, thereby taking some of it off of young defenders such as Antrel Rolle. The Cardinals also added defensive tackle Kendrick Clancy this off-season, who played and learned in defensive-minded regimes in New York (Giants) and Pittsburgh.

    17. Minnesota Vikings
    The Vikings produced as a fantasy defense by forcing 32 turnovers. Minnesota tied division rival Green Bay at 19th overall at 21.5 points allowed. The return of Kenechi Udeze from injury allowed the Vikings to part ways with longtime pass rusher Lance Johnstone. Udeze with team with 2005 draft pick Erasmus James to form youthful and talented bookends on the defensive line. Veteran Pat Williams effectively stuffs the run and slows up plays up the middle while 2003 top draft pick Kevin Williams had provided solid production at the other tackle position.

    18. Oakland Raiders

    Derrick Burgess had a huge year in 2005 with 16 sacks, nearly half of Oakland's sack total (36). (Jonathan Ferrey / Getty Images)

    The Oakland defense was decimated by injuries in 2005. Warren Sapp was expected to thwart the run in the middle, but missed six games and parts of others. In his absence, the Raiders ranked 25th in run defense, allowing 128.1 yards per game and 18 total touchdowns. Oakland received magnificent production from defensive end Derrick Burgess who accounted for 16 of the Raiders' 36 sacks. The Raiders added Lance Johnstone from the Vikings (7.5 sacks in 2005) to help free Burgess and Sapp to make plays. Tyler Brayton and Bobby Hamilton round out the defensive line.

    19. Kansas City Chiefs
    The Chiefs' defensive struggles continued in 2005. They allowed 20.3 points per game because they lacked a sustained pass rush and couldn't contain opponents' passing games. Like most teams that run the ball well, the Chiefs ranked high in rush defense (7th, 98.1 yards per game). Jared Allen offered some pressure with 11 sacks, but the team as a whole compiled only 29. As such, forcing opponents into passing downs worked against the Chiefs. Kansas City drafted Penn State defensive end Tamba Hali in the first round of this year's draft to upgrade that pass rush and to contain the edges.

    20. Buffalo Bills
    The Bills allowed 22.9 points per game in 2005, partly because of the inefficiency of the team's offense. Under new coach Dick Jauron, the Bills upgraded the line this off-season with the acquisitions of former Indianapolis Colts tackle Larry Tripplett and draft choice John McCargo. Tripplett offers a solid force in the middle as a run stuffer. He'll help shore up a Buffalo run defense that allowed 137 yards per game last season. These additions join the returning trio of Chris Kelsay, Tim Anderson and Aaron Schobel, who tallied 12 sacks a year ago.

    21. Washington Redskins
    The Redskins added Andre Carter from the ***** to shore up a run defense that ranked 13th at 105.4 yards per game but allowed 15 scores. He's slotted into the left defensive end position opposite veteran Phillip Daniels (eight sacks in 2005). Washington added Carter with an eye on sealing the edge, but also for upping the pressure against division rivals Eli Manning, Drew Bledsoe and Donovan McNabb. The Redskins ranked 20th in the NFL last year with 35 sacks.

    22. New York Jets
    The Jets ranked 29th in the NFL against the run in 2005. New head coach Eric Mangini brings the blueprints from the successful 3-4 scheme from New England. In addition to a need to stop the run, the Jets also created generated 30 sacks last season. Shaun Ellis and Dewayne Robertson are still growing into their roles. To help aid their development, New York brought on Kimo Von Oelhoffen from the Super Bowl champion Steelers.

    23. St. Louis Rams
    The Rams ranked 28th in rushing defense last year, allowing 136.1 yards per game and 22 touchdowns. St. Louis addressed that need during the off-season by bringing veteran La'Roi Glover over from Dallas. He'll be counted on to shore up the middle alongside Jimmy Kennedy. The edges are safe with Leonard Little and Anthony Hargrove returning for St. Louis. The pair combined for 107 tackles and 16 sacks in 2005.

    24. Cleveland Browns

    Alvin McKinley is the least experienced of Cleveland's defensive linemen, and he's already played six seasons. (Rick Stewart / Getty Images)

    Romeo Crennel continues the conversion of the Cleveland defense to mimic the scheme he ran in New England. The Browns ranked 11th in total defense, allowing 18.8 points per game in Crennel's first year at the helm. It was an improvement of 13 slots and nearly six points per game over 2004.

    Of the three defensive lineman, Alvin McKinley is by far the least experienced, and he's in his seventh NFL season! He'll team with veterans Orpheus Roye and Ted Washington with an eye on improving their 30th-ranked run defense from last season (137.6 yards per game).

    25. New Orleans Saints
    The Saints struggled terribly against the run in 2005, ranking 27th in the NFL at 134.1 yards per game and allowing one touchdown per game. They also produced little pressure on opposing quarterbacks with only 25 total sacks. Will Smith generated 8.5 sacks of his own, and Charles Grant struggled through a down year with only 2.5. I expect a rebound out of him this year and more stability on the whole as New Orleans moves past the tragedies and distractions of 2005. Grant had accumulated 27.5 sacks in his previous three years with the Saints, so the ability is there for greater production.

    26. San Diego Chargers
    The Chargers received tremendous production out of rookie Luis Castillo and second-year player Igor Olshansky and surprised many with their league best run defense. San Diego allowed only 84.3 yards per game. To some degree, that number was aided by the fact that the Chargers ranked 28th in pass defense (224.9 yards per game) and that opponents frequently engaged in a shoot-out with the potent San Diego offense.

    27. Detroit Lions
    The Lions will take on the face of new coach Rod Marinelli. Marinelli's calling card in the NFL is his brilliance along the defensive line. He turned the Tampa Bay defense into one of the most dominant in recent memory. The question is whether he can turn the quartet of Kalimba Edwards, James Hall, Shaun Rogers and Dan Wilkinson into a top-ranked unit. The Lions ranked 24th in sacks last year with 31 and 24th in run defense at 127.5 yards per game. Marinelli will look to boost these rankings in year one of his regime, which should be aided by the ability of the offense to move the ball under coordinator Mike Martz.

    28. Dallas Cowboys
    Veteran defensive end Greg Ellis is contemplating a move to the outside linebacker slot in Dallas' 3-4 scheme. That opens up a competition for his vacated spot between draft choice Jason Hatcher from Grambling State and 2005 selection Chris Canty. Dallas ranked in the middle of rush defenses (108.2 yards per game) and 11th in pass defense (192.7 yards per game) last season. The Cowboys are banking that second-year player Marcus Spears is ready to make a huge leap in productivity.

    29. Denver Broncos
    Denver tied for third in overall defense at 16.1 points per game on the strength of a stout run defense. The crowd of former Cleveland Browns defensive linemen, Courtney Brown, Gerard Warren and Michael Myers teamed with John Engelberger and the departed Trevor Pryce to rank second against the run (85.2 yards per game).

    30. Tennessee Titans
    The Titans run defense ranked 22nd last year (118.4 yards per game). Though it ranked in the middle of the pack in pass defense at 201 yards per game, an inconsistent pass rush outside of Kyle Vanden Bosch (12.5 sacks) and inexperience in the defensive backfield pushed the Titans down to 29th in overall defense (26.3 points per game).

    31. Houston Texans
    The Texans made the biggest noise on draft day by passing on USC tailback Reggie Bush. A quick look at the defensive stats from 2005 would make their choice of Mario Williams at least understandable. The Texans ranked last in rush defense at 143.9 yards per game and 24th in pass defense at 220.1 yards per game. It comes as no surprise then that they ranked last in points allowed per game at 26.9. While it's impossible to expect Williams to turn things around solo, his presence should make Anthony Weaver, Travis Johnson and Robaire Smith more effective.

    32. San Francisco *****
    Last season counted as a rebuilding year for San Francisco on both sides of the ball. The ***** tied for 30th in total defense at 26.8 points per game after generating only 28 sacks (tied for 29th). Veteran Bryant Young had strong year for the ***** in 2005, contributing eight sacks in 13 games played. However, he didn't receive much help overall. Anthony Adams and Marques Douglas join him on the three-man defensive line in Mike Nolan's 3-4 defense. The pair combined for 98 tackles and one sack in 2005. They'll need to improve to keep pressure off the defense backfield.

    The tour continues on Wednesday as I break down the linebacking corps and defensive backfields of all NFL teams. As mini-camps roll on and the injuries begin to mount, we'll be sure to revisit these lists to give you the most updated look inside each team.

    RamsFan16

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    Re: Team Postion Rankings

    Team RB rankings: Chicago stacked


    Michael Harmon / FOXSports.com
    Posted: 1 day ago

    Team rankings: QB | RB | WR | TE

    I continue the FOXSports.com off-season NFL coverage with my review of running back situations for each team.




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    # QB: Arizona's Leinart rates first
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    In creating this ranking list, I'm not only considering the strength of the top option, but also reviewing systems, philosophies and available backups.

    After all, it's rare for players to take on such a heavy workload and make through an entire NFL season unscathed. The turning of an ankle or missed blocking assignment can change fantasy fortunes on a dime. Therefore, I begin the rankings with a team currently three-deep with running backs who possess starting talent.

    1. Chicago Bears
    Thomas Jones took advantage of Cedric Benson's late arrival to camp last season and went on to have a career year. He racked up 1,335 rushing yards and scored nine touchdowns to lead the Bears into the playoffs. Jones will be challenged by Benson in camp this season. Lovie Smith and the Bears staff love Benson's combination of explosiveness and power and will look to get him involved this year. At this juncture, there appears to be a split workload in the offing.

    The Bears also have a tremendous fallback option in Adrian Peterson. Peterson averaged 5.1 yards per carry in limited work last season, including a 120-yard effort against San Francisco.

    2. San Diego Chargers
    LaDainian Tomlinson remains one of the top running backs in the game, although Shaun Alexander and Larry Johnson will get more press this year. He scored 20 total touchdowns last season, his fourth consecutive season with 15 or more touchdowns. The departure of Drew Brees thrusts Philip Rivers into the starting quarterback position, which means that Tomlinson will likely become a bigger factor in the passing game once again. Remember, he did catch 100 balls in 2003.

    A late-season injury to Tomlinson put reserve running back Michael Turner on the radar. Turner showed tremendous speed and toughness in limited work, and electrified fans and fantasy owners with an 83-yard gallop down the sidelines in Week 15 against the Colts.

    3. Baltimore Ravens
    Jamal Lewis re-signed with Baltimore after a disappointing contract year performance during which he rushed for 100 fewer yards and half the touchdowns than the season before in three more games. Lewis didn't record his first 100-yard game until Week 12 and at times seemed more concerned with getting to free agent status than performing in 2005.

    To that end, the Ravens added former Broncos tailback Mike Anderson to the mix. Anderson is a two-time 1,000-yard rusher who excels between the tackles much like Lewis does when on his game. Anderson's history as a fullback is intriguing. If used in this capacity, Lewis could be poised for another huge year. If they split time, both will put up solid numbers, but will be No. 2 or 3 fantasy backs.

    Third-year back Musa Smith will see little time off the bench barring an injury to the starters.

    4. Denver Broncos

    Tatum Bell ascends to the top of the RB depth chart in Denver with Mike Anderson's departure. (Elsa / Getty Images)

    A Denver running back has topped 1,000 rushing yards in all but one of Mike Shanahan's seasons on the bench. Tatum Bell will get a crack at keeping that tremendous run alive with the departure of Mike Anderson. Bell narrowly missed the mark as the second option last year with 921 yards.

    The second running back in the mix this year is Ron Dayne. Dayne rushed for 270 yards and a score as the third back in Denver last season. According to reports, Dayne split carries in first-team drills in this past week's mini-camp.

    5. Cincinnati Bengals
    The Bengals passing game garners the headlines with Chad Johnson's antics, but Rudi Johnson keeps the game moving on the ground. Rudi has topped 1,400 rushing yards in two straight seasons with 12 touchdowns in consecutive seasons.

    His backup is one of the most intriguing young players at the position in Chris Perry. While he won't receive many opportunities on the ground if Johnson stays healthy, Perry has become a big factor in the Cincinnati passing game. He caught 51 passes last year for 328 yards. Perry has the goods to be a big-time back if called upon.

    6. Dallas Cowboys
    Dallas added Terrell Owens to push the passing game to a new level. Drew Bledsoe obviously wins with Owens, Terry Glenn and Jason Witten in the receiving corps, but Julius Jones may prove to be the biggest winner in this move. The attention afforded Dallas receivers will serve to spread the field and offer Jones room to move. The biggest issue facing Jones is his durability. He's missed a total of 11 games in two seasons with various ailments. Even though slowed by injury, Jones narrowly missed the 1,000-yard mark last year (993).

    Backup Marion Barber demonstrated an ability to take the load should injury befall Jones once again. Barber topped 80 rushing yards on three occasions and scored five touchdowns (equal to Jones).

    7. Jacksonville Jaguars
    Fred Taylor is reportedly in shape and looking great this off-season. Unfortunately, he also appears to be upset with management and sat out a passing camp earlier this week in favor of working out as his home. If those issues are resolved, he'll fend off a crew of younger backs for one more year.

    The Jaguars are well positioned if Taylor should later be cut for cap reasons or dealt. Greg Jones showed great speed and power in place of Taylor last season, and they selected speedy Maurice Drew in April's draft. Jones will likely assume the role of goal-line vulture regardless of how the Taylor situation plays out, so he's a player worthy of consideration later on draft day.

    8. Kansas City Chiefs
    How do you follow up a dream season? That's the question facing 20-touchdown breakout performer Larry Johnson. The offensive line returns intact, as Willie Roaf put off retirement for one more year to make a push to the playoffs and a 2,000-yard season for Johnson.

    The picture behind Johnson on the depth chart remains murky. Priest Holmes, despite a severe neck injury that ended his 2005 season, continues to contemplate a comeback. His status likely won't be known until players report for camp at the end of July. The Chiefs added former Broncos back Quentin Griffin as insurance. He started the 2004 season brilliantly before a knee injury took him out of the mix.

    The Chiefs are one of the teams rumored to be in the market for Michael Bennett. The uncertainty surrounding Holmes may force them to make a preemptive strike.

    9. Seattle Seahawks
    Shaun Alexander has yet to miss a game in his NFL career. He's also scored 16 or more touchdowns in five consecutive seasons.

    That means that his backups are looking for reps in blowout situations, or in the unlikely event that Alexander is forced to miss time. Maurice Morris has shown ability in his limited opportunities, and he spurned free-agent offers elsewhere to remain in Seattle. He ripped off a run of at least 12 yards in six different games and put forth a 100-yard effort in Week 6 against Houston. Fullback Mack Strong remains a factor in short yardage situations, but Alexander typically gets to finish drives himself.

    10. Atlanta Falcons
    Atlanta rushed for a league-leading 159 yards per game last year. Warrick Dunn dominated between the 20s, racking up 1,416 rushing yards and a robust 5.1 yards per carry average. For the time being, T.J. Duckett remains on the roster to steal goal-line carries. Duckett scored eight touchdowns last year as opposed to Dunn's three. However, Duckett's dramatic drop-off of nearly two yards per carry from 2004 has his role in question for 2005. The Falcons moved to draft a potential replacement for Duckett in Jerious Norwood. Norwood recorded a 4.33 second 40-yard dash and runs well inside the tackles. Duckett will need to bring his top game to training camp to fend off Norwood's challenge.

    11. Pittsburgh Steelers
    The Steelers will continue to work their power ground game, even through longtime fantasy hero Jerome Bettis has left for the broadcast booth. Willie Parker will shoulder the load this season, offering a great combination of speed and toughness in between the tackles. Parker averaged 4.7 yards per carry and rushed for 1,202 yards last season that culminated with a 75-yard sprint to the end zone in Super Bowl XL.

    Duce Staley and Verron Haynes enter training camp in a competition for the backup and vulture roles. Staley underwent arthroscopic knee surgery last season, and though he feels much improved, he has been limited in two straight seasons. He has a slight edge over Haynes based on his past successes (830 rushing yards in 2004). The whispers continue that Pittsburgh is in the market to acquire Duckett, who has fallen out of favor somewhat in Atlanta.

    12. New Orleans Saints
    The Saints enter the summer with a bevy of talent at running back. Deuce McAllister returns from injury with an eye on reclaiming his spot among the game's top backs. With McAllister's recovery a question, the Saints signed former Vikings running back Michael Bennett in free agency. However, once the Texans selected Mario Williams, the Saints were able to bring Reggie Bush onboard. As such, they have a glut of running backs and will no doubt make a move to trade Bennett this summer.

    Sean Payton has the luxury of being able to call the number of two top-tier backs in 2006. The problem is figuring out how to make them work in tandem. It's a problem any coach would love to have.

    13. Indianapolis Colts
    The Colts will work in a new feature back this fall, as longtime star Edgerrin James bolted for the desert. Former 1,000-yard rusher and James backup Dominic Rhodes will look to reclaim the role he filled in 2001. He'll be challenged by rookie Joseph Addai, who impressed team officials with his performance in this past week's mini-camp. Early fantasy drafts in which I've participated and those I've reviewed suggest that owners believe that Addai will win out, as he's being drafted 2-3 rounds before Rhodes. I agree with that trend, as Addai offers a tremendous combination of power and speed akin to that of the departed James.

    The player who wins the starting role has a great opportunity to excel alongside the potent passing offense.

    14. Washington Redskins

    Clinton Portis was greatly aided by the blocking of Jon Jansen. (Andy Lyons / Getty Images)

    The power running game is the staple of Joe Gibbs' offense in Washington. The return of Jon Jansen solidified the line in 2005 and pushed Clinton Portis back into the game's elite. Portis topped 1,500 rushing yards for the third time in four NFL seasons and scored 11 touchdowns.

    Ladell Betts and Rock Cartwright return as backups to Portis. Neither has distinguished themselves as a full-time runner in the NFL, though Betts has been effective in limited opportunities.

    15. Arizona Cardinals
    The Cardinals were positively miserable in the rushing game last season, so they made a splash in free agency by signing Edgerrin James. The passing game offers some of the same sizzle as the Indianapolis attack, but the offensive line still has some pundits questioning how much of a dip in performance will be seen from James.

    Second-year back J.J. Arrington is working to learn everything he can from James in early workouts and is expected to be the primary backup with veteran Marcel Shipp likely to be released.

    16. New York Giants
    Tom Coughlin and the Giants continue to lean heavily on the legs of Tiki Barber. He topped 300 carries for the third time in four seasons and remains very active in the passing game. Third-year back Derrick Ward played sparingly behind Barber last year and will likely see little action again this year barring an injury to Barber.

    Much to the chagrin of Barber owners, Brandon Jacobs assumed the vulture role last season as a rookie. He was significantly more effective than Ron Dayne had been in 2004 with seven touchdowns. Jacobs effectively uses his 6-foot-4 frame in short yardage situations and will be a big factor in the red zone once again.

    17. St. Louis Rams
    Scott Linehan will look to install the power running game that proved so successful for the Dolphins last season. Linehan's hire means that Steven Jackson will see his role expand this year and possibly propel him into the top tier of NFL running backs. Jackson reached the 1,000-yard mark (1,046) despite the presence of Marshall Faulk and the fact that he carried the ball 20 or more times in only three games last season.

    Faulk returns for one final season, and will see his role limited to injury replacement and passing down specialist. He averaged 4.5 yards per carry on 65 attempts and caught 44 passes out of the backfield. He will remain a factor in the offense and can still perform when given an opportunity, as evidenced by his 87 rushing yards in Week 15 against Philadelphia.

    The Rams added Tony Fisher from Green Bay, who has long served as a good receiver out of the backfield. He caught a career-high 48 passes for the injury-riddled Packers in 2005.

    18. Green Bay Packers
    In a difficult season, the Packers lost player after player to injury in 2005. Ahman Green, Najeh Davenport and breakout player Samkon Gado all lost significant time to injury. All three return to the mix in 2006, with Green looking to reclaim past fantasy glory (20 combined touchdowns in 2003). Najeh Davenport reportedly will be unavailable to work out until training camp in late July, which will allow Gado to see increased reps in mini-camp in the interim.

    All three players have proven to be effective running backs, but the offensive line remains a question mark entering 2006.

    19. Houston Texans
    Domanick Davis breathed a huge sigh of relief when the Texans drafted Mario Williams instead of Reggie Bush. The Texans passed on Bush despite the fact that Davis missed five games last year and has been banged up each of the last three seasons. Even though he participated in only 11 games, Davis still piled up 1,313 total yards of offense last season. Assuming his knee is sound, he'll be ready to put up big totals in Gary Kubiak's system.

    The Texans have a deep pool of backup options for Davis. Both Vernand Morency and Jonathan Wells showed an ability to pick up tough yards when pressed into action last year. Houston added two more back this off-season with the signing of veteran Antowain Smith and selection of Wali Lundy in this year's draft.

    20. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
    Jon Gruden made no secret that his offense was going only as far as Carnell Williams would take them. That same approach figures to rule the play-calling in 2006, but Gruden does have a myriad of options available to him to spell his franchise back. Mike Alstott returns for another season as the goal-line option. Alstott scored six rushing touchdowns in 34 carries last year and added 25 receptions. Michael Pittman has proven to be a capable backup (926 yards and seven touchdowns in 2004), so he'll be the first called to spell Williams.

    Earnest Graham is available as insurance and fullback Jerald Sowell was added from the Jets to block for Williams and offer a sure-handed receiver out of the backfield for Chris Simms.

    21. Tennessee Titans
    The Titans are currently sitting on a three-headed backfield with Chris Brown, Travis Henry and rookie LenDale White on the roster. Brown returns to Tennessee for the final year of his contract and enters the year as the top option. However, he will face a battle from an extremely motivated White and veteran Henry this summer. At the very least, White enters the picture as the goal-line back with Brown and Henry splitting duties between the 20s. There is always the possibility that either Brown or Henry is moved this summer to a team in need of a back.

    22. New England Patriots
    Corey Dillon scored 12 touchdowns for the second straight season, but it has become clear that the years of heavy workloads have finally caught up to him. Dillon's rushing average fell by more than a yard from his 2004 mark (4.7 to 3.5).

    To prepare for the future, the Patriots drafted Laurence Maroney in the first round of this year's draft. He was impressive in the first mini-camp this past week, showing good hands out of the backfield and a good burst in running drills. He'll compete with receiving specialists Kevin Faulk and Patrick Pass for touches behind Dillon early, but look for a split with Dillon as he becomes fully acclimated to the system.

    23. Miami Dolphins
    The Dolphins effectively utilized a 1-2 power punch out of the backfield with Ricky Williams and Ronnie Brown last season. With Williams now suspended, Brown will run solo this year unless Miami is able to make a move. Despite the presence of Williams and a reduced workload in the second half of the year, Brown still gained 907 yards as a rookie on a strong 4.4 yards per carry average. He also proved a capable receiver with 32 catches.

    At present, Miami has Travis Minor, Sammy Morris and Kay-Jay Harris in competition for a share of the workload and to serve as Brown's backup. Neither Minor nor Morris has distinguished themselves during their careers, as they possess rushing averages of 4.1 and 3.8, respectively. The Dolphins are rumored to be one of the teams interested in dealing for Bennett from New Orleans.

    24. Buffalo Bills

    Willis McGahee appears set for another season of logging a high rate of carries. (Jim McIsaac / Getty Images)

    With continuing struggles in the passing game, the Bills relied heavily on the legs of Willis McGahee in the first half of 2005. McGahee averaged 22 touches per game for the season, but watched his workload and productivity decrease following the Week 9 Bye. His rushing average dropped by a full yard after the bye week.

    New coach Dick Jauron relies heavily on the run and his defense, so McGahee is likely to see a heavy workload again. The Bills added two-time 1,000-yard rusher (both under Jauron) Anthony Thomas as an insurance policy this off-season. Jauron likes his style, and may just work Thomas into the mix given McGahee's struggles in short-yardage situations last year.

    25. Philadelphia Eagles
    Philadelphia generally employs multiple backs within its system. This year figures to be no different with three players in the mix for touches. Brian Westbrook will assume the most prominent role in his return from a foot injury. He doesn't carry the ball 20 times per game as most feature backs do, but his combination of carries and catches typically approaches 20. Ryan Moats showed great explosiveness in his work as the feature back, ripping off long touchdown runs in Weeks 14 and 15. The third back in the mix for the season is Correll Buckhalter. Buckhalter missed the last two seasons because of injury, but he'll receive an opportunity to resume his career in camp. If he's ready to play, he could factor into the Eagles' red zone game plan.

    26. Minnesota Vikings
    Fantasy owners welcome a new coach in Minnesota, hoping that the constant shuffling that occurred under Mike Tice will go by the wayside. The choice of head coach to succeed Tice would suggest otherwise. The Vikings added Chester Taylor to their roster from Baltimore to lead the charge, but it appears that two other backs will factor into the equation this season in Brad Childress' system. Remember, Childress came from a Philadelphia offense that regularly utilized multiple backs.

    Ciatrick Fason, a second-year player out of Florida, was used primarily in short-yardage situations last year and figures to assume a bigger role this year. He scored four touchdowns and will factor in as a goal line back at the very minimum. Mewelde Moore expects to play a role in the return game, but he'll still be available to pick up carries.

    27. Detroit Lions
    Kevin Jones ranked among the biggest disappointments in the fantasy realm last season. He battled injury and ineffectiveness to finish with 664 rushing yards and five touchdowns. Jones's rushing average was over one yard per carry lower than his brilliant 2004 debut. The shift to Mike Martz's spread offense will open up the field for Jones this season and he should be able to race back to his 2004 numbers with a season of health.

    The Lions added Brian Calhoun in the draft to compete with Artose Pinner and Shawn Bryson for carries behind Jones. Calhoun doesn't figure to be an every-down back to start his career, but could force a workload split if Jones struggles.

    28. New York Jets
    The Jets backfield was decimated by injuries last year with both Curtis Martin and Derrick Blaylock being placed on injured reserve. Martin's injury-shortened season marked his first NFL campaign with under 1,000 rushing yards. He'll return as the starter this year for first-year coach Eric Mangini, with second-year player Cedric Houston sliding into the backup role. Houston averaged 3.7 yards per carry with three strong efforts in the Jets' final four games. He's a capable backup if Martin is hobbled again. Blaylock will be used on third-downs as a receiver out of the backfield.

    29. Carolina Panthers
    DeShaun Foster enters the season as the starter, but his injury history is well-chronicled. He finished the 2005 season with 1,249 combined rushing and receiving yards and three touchdowns. Short-yardage specialist and power back Stephen Davis is no longer with the team, leaving a competition among two backs for the backup role to Foster. Eric Shelton missed his entire rookie season with a foot injury. He figures to be the goal-line option for the Panthers this year. The other player in the mix this season is rookie DeAngelo Williams, who brings game-changing speed to Carolina.

    Nick Goings, who rushed for 821 yards and six touchdowns when the Panthers sustained a litany of injuries in 2004, remains with the team as a fourth option.

    30. San Francisco *****
    The ***** enter mini-camps with a trio of talented running backs on the roster. Frank Gore shone in his late-season audition for the starting role by rushing for 68 or more yards in three straight games to end the year. Gore showed breakaway speed and averaged 4.8 yards per carry on 127 carries.

    Competing with Gore for reps will be longtime ***** back Kevan Barlow and Maurice Hicks. Barlow's rushing average has dropped nearly two full yards per carry since his breakout 2003 season. There is a possibility that Barlow could be released, which would leave Hicks as the sole backup. Hicks ran extremely well in his limited role, averaging 5.2 yards per carry with three touchdowns.

    31. Oakland Raiders
    Oakland worked LaMont Jordan hard in his first season as a featured back, averaging 24.4 touches per game before missing the final two games of the year. Jordan finished the year with 1,589 combined yards, but he averaged only 3.8 yards per carry. Former lineman Art Shell will likely rely heavily on his running back to shoulder the load once again.

    The drop-off from Jordan is significant. Zack Crockett works most effectively in short-yardage situations (one touchdown per 13 carries through his career) and Justin Fargas has yet to impress.

    32. Cleveland Browns
    Reuben Droughns proved that running backs can survive out of Denver with his 1,200 yards for the Browns last year. Droughns averaged four yards per carry, but unfortunately couldn't find the end zone (two touchdowns).

    The backup situation here is up for grabs, as the Browns are reportedly interested in dealing oft-injured running back Lee Suggs. The Browns are one of several teams reportedly interested in acquiring former Vikings and current Saints running back Michael Bennett. William Green remains on the roster in the No. 3 role entering camp.

    I'll continue the tour through each position next time with the wide receivers. Until then, good luck with your early rankings efforts.
    RamsFan16

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    Re: Team Postion Rankings

    Team QB rankings: Detroit's fifth
    Michael Harmon / FOXSports.com
    Posted: 5 days ago

    Team rankings: QB | RB | WR | TE

    The quarterback position often takes a backseat in fantasy drafts to the running backs, and it should, given that many teams employ systems that use multiple players and specialists.




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    However, the quarterback position makes it all go, and generally, only 13-15 players actually take every snap for the respective teams. Peyton Manning and Brett Favre stand out as the iron men at the position. Fantasy owners can count on them to get under center and confidently pencil them into their starting lineups (struggles for Favre and the phenomenal Colts run of 2005 notwithstanding).

    In this edition of my preseason tour, I'm putting the quarterback position under the microscope. Rather than focusing entirely on starters, I'm ranking quarterbacks by team. In subsequent columns, I'll apply the same scrutiny to the other skill positions.

    I begin in Indianpolis, where the system and assembly of talent makes the quarterback a star, regardless of the number on his back.

    1. Indianapolis Colts
    History says that the Colts need worry about the backup position only for the purpose of practice and garbage time snaps. In eight years at the controls of the Colts attack, Peyton Manning has yet to miss a game because of injury.

    Backup Jim Sorgi played well when handed the ball in 2005. In the two games after Indianapolis had secured home field advantage through the playoffs, Sorgi completed 69 percent of his pass attempts for 444 yards and three touchdowns.

    2. New England Patriots
    It's easy to see that Tom Brady has established himself as one of the marquee players on the NFL landscape. However, he's quietly become one of the best fantasy options at the quarterback position as well. Brady has averaged 26 touchdown passes and 3,797 yards over the past four seasons.

    The retirement of Doug Flutie places second-year quarterback Matt Cassel in the backup role. He performed well in the season finale against the Dolphins, completing 11-of-20 for 168 yards and two touchdowns. Flutie believes that Cassel is ready for the role, but there remains a chance that the Patriots make a move to bring in a veteran ahead of camp.

    3. Jacksonville Jaguars
    The Jaguars received efficient play from starter Byron Leftwich when he was healthy. Leftwich completed 58 percent of his passes for 2,123 yards and three touchdowns per interception but missed the final five games of the year.

    Fortunately, backup David Garrard showed an ability to lead the team both by air and on the ground. He accounted for seven touchdowns against two turnovers in those five starts with three performances of 216 or more passing yards.

    4. St. Louis Rams
    The Rams return starter Marc Bulger to direct new coach Scott Linehan's offense. Bulger has started the season strong before an injury on an interception return effectively ended his year. He tossed at least one touchdown pass in each of his starts (14 overall) before succumbing to injury. Linehan brought backup Gus Frerotte with him from Miami as insurance for Bulger, who has missed time each of the last two seasons. Frerotte threw 18 touchdowns for the Dolphins last year.

    Linehan proposes to utilize Steven Jackson in much the way he worked the Ronnie Brown and Ricky Williams combination in Miami last season. His love of the power running game indicates that even a healthy Bulger will see his numbers pulled back somewhat from his pinball-like numbers of the past.

    5. Detroit Lions
    The Lions traded former No. 1 pick Joey Harrington to the Dolphins this off-season after years of underachieving and reached out in free agency to acquire Josh McCown and Jon Kitna. Both enjoyed stretches of success in Arizona and Cincinnati, respectively, and will enjoy working in the wide open offense of Mike Martz with the Lions.

    This quarterback situation figures to be one to watch this summer as training camp unfolds with the caliber of receivers and skill position players assembled in Detroit. Second-year quarterback Dan Orlovsky stands as the No. 3 option this season.

    6. Minnesota Vikings

    It was feast or famine for Brad Johnson's owners in 2005, and he'll keep the job for at least one more year in Minnesota. (Elsa / Getty Images)

    The Vikings parted ways with Daunte Culpepper this off-season, leaving Brad Johnson as the starter entering 2006. Johnson was hit or miss after ascending to the role in 2005, tossing multiple touchdowns in five games and getting shut out in four others. He's immobile, will turn 38 early in the 2006 season and is just two years removed from a performance and injury-shortened season in Tampa.

    Former Detroit starter and Eagles backup (under Childress) Mike McMahon was signed for the primary backup role this season. McMahon started seven games for the Eagles last year in Donovan McNabb's absence and completed a woeful 45.4 percent of his pass attempts with five touchdowns and eight interceptions. Frighteningly, that completion percentage is actually one percent higher than his career mark. J.T. O'Sullivan sits in the third spot for Minnesota, and he's yet to throw an NFL pass after four years.

    7. Miami Dolphins
    Miami made wholesale changes at the position for 2006. All three quarterbacks on the roster in 2005 changed locales this off-season. Daunte Culpepper assumes the starting job for Nick Saban after a miserable truncated season in Minnesota last year. The Dolphins also brought former Lions quarterback Joey Harrington in through a trade. Harrington will serve as Culpepper's backup and insurance for his injured knee.

    The reliance on the strong running game with Brown takes some of the load off of the quarterback and allows them to operate more effectively in the system. After all, Frerotte narrowly missed the 3,000-yard mark last season.

    8. Philadelphia Eagles
    The Eagles welcome back starter Donovan McNabb after his sports hernia injury of 2005. He'll come back to a wide receiving corps led by Reggie Brown and an efficient offensive system. Lest we forget, the Eagles and McNabb were quite effective in the days before Terrell Owens.

    Philadelphia added veteran quarterback Jeff Garcia as his backup. Garcia joins his fourth team in four years, and though he has seen his productivity dip each season, he fits in nicely within this system. The motion and short passes that make up Philadelphia's attack are similar to the San Francisco offense he ran with such efficiency at the beginning of the decade.

    Garcia slides ahead of Koy Detmer on the depth chart. Detmer hasn't thrown a touchdown pass since 2002.

    9. Tennessee Titans
    The Titans addressed the quarterback position for the future with the selection of Vince Young, but the position in 2006 remains a question mark. Steve McNair has one foot out the door, but his exit is not assured as of yet. Behind him on the depth chart stands Billy Volek, who shone brightly when called upon to replace an injured McNair in 2004.

    Tennessee added David Givens from New England to complement Drew Bennett and a host of young and talented receivers. They also selected LenDale White in the draft to toughen up the backfield. These additions will make Tennessee more competitive immediately.

    10. Atlanta Falcons
    Atlanta fans and fantasy owners continue to wait for Michael Vick to piece together his ridiculous talent with on-field performance. Vick tossed 15 touchdown passes and rushed for an additional six touchdowns to post a respectable season total, but his overall production and decision-making falls short of expectations. Of chief concern is his tendency to tuck the ball and run instead of using his tremendous arm strength. Perhaps a full off-season of work with top options Roddy White and Michael Jenkins will rectify that situation.

    Falcons backup Matt Schaub was one of the most heavily sought-after trade options this off-season. Schaub played well in his lone start in Week 5 against New England. He completed 18-of-34 attempts for 298 yards and three scores in that contest. Schaub is more a pure passer, which would send the value of Atlanta receivers higher should he be called upon for an extended stretch.

    Atlanta drafted D.J. Shockley of Georgia in the final round. Shockley is a tremendous athlete whose stock dropped on account of his unorthodox throwing motion. The Falcons don't care how it gets there, just so long as it does. After all, there are no style points awarded in the NFL.

    11. Washington Redskins
    Mark Brunell turned back the clock in Joe Gibbs' offense, effectively utilizing speed receiver Santana Moss and distributing the ball to his tight ends. Brunell threw a career-high 23 touchdown passes in wresting the top job from Patrick Ramsey (now with the Jets). The Redskins added wide receivers Brandon Lloyd and Antwaan Randle El to offer more balance and depth.

    Washington has a talented backup at the ready in 2005 first-round selection Jason Campbell. Some have argued that the former Auburn star deserves the opportunity to compete with Brunell for the starting role this year. Brunell's success in 2005 makes that unlikely to occur, but Campbell's strong arm and 6-foot-4 frame have them secure for the future. Career backup Todd Collins currently stands third on the depth chart.

    12. Arizona Cardinals
    The Cardinals, led by Josh McCown and Kurt Warner, finished first in the NFL at 295.6 passing yards per game in 2005. Steady backup McCown exited for Detroit this off-season, leaving rookie Matt Leinart as Warner's first backup. Given Warner's immobility and the continued questions about the Cardinals offensive line, Leinart may find himself under center for an extended stretch this year.

    The addition of Edgerrin James will help take heat off of the quarterback and keep defenses honest, which will serve the Warner/Leinart combination well. Additionally, the Cardinals work the short and intermediate passing game prominently. Quarterbacks get the ball out fast and allow the receivers to do their magic after the catch. While the injury history of Warner is somewhat disconcerting, the combination of skill position players should allow Leinart to find some modicum of success.

    13. Denver Broncos
    The Broncos enter 2006 with the calm and collected Jake Plummer, who has learned to operate within the Denver system and cut down on his mistakes. Plummer has participated in every game for the Broncos in the past two years, throwing for 45 touchdowns and 7,455 yards.

    Denver found their quarterback of the future by trading up this year to select Jay Cutler of Vanderbilt. Both Cutler and Bradlee Van Pelt impressed Denver coaches in the recently completed mini-camp. There appears to be a spirited competition on tap to decide the backup role.

    14. Cincinnati Bengals
    Carson Palmer had his coming out party last year to the tune of 32 touchdown passes, but saw his post-season run ended early with a serious knee injury in the Pittsburgh loss. Palmer expects to be ready for the season opener, but the Bengals will proceed with caution this summer.

    The Bengals signed former Ravens quarterback Anthony Wright to be Palmer's backup and insurance if his knee isn't ready. He replaces former backup Jon Kitna, who signed with the Lions this off-season. Wright completed 61.7 percent of his passing attempts for Baltimore last season for 1,582 yard, six touchdowns and nine interceptions.

    15. New York Giants
    Eli Manning grew tremendously in his second NFL season, tossing 24 touchdown passes in his first full season as a starter. New York figures to be among the highest scoring offenses this year as Manning continues his maturation with Tiki Barber, Plaxico Burress and Jeremy Shockey as his primary playmakers.

    However, the quarterback role is still spotty behind Manning. Tim Hasselbeck returns as the backup with Jared Lorenzen in the third spot. To put the experience of this pair in perspective, Hasselbeck has not attempted a pass in the NFL since 2003, and Lorenzen has yet to take a snap. Pass protection will be huge in deciding the Giants' fate in 2006.

    16. Tampa Bay Buccaneers

    After Chris Simms came into Tampa Bay's lineup, he performed well enough to hold onto the starting spot for the rest of 2005. (Scott Halleran / Getty Images)

    Chris Simms ascended to the top spot for the Buccaneers after starter Brian Griese was injured and lost for the year. Simms performed well in spots with three multiple touchdown games, but was also shut out of the end zone on four occasions. The Buccaneers have backups Luke McCown and former San Francisco ***** starter Tim Rattay on the roster should Simms struggle.

    The Buccaneers will predicate its offense on the legs of second-year tailback Carnell Williams, who carried the ball 290 times in 14 games as a rookie.

    17. Oakland Raiders
    Oakland parted ways with inconsistent veteran quarterback Kerry Collins and replaced him with the equally enigmatic Aaron Brooks. There are certainly talent players lining the Oakland roster to give Brooks a chance to succeed, but he was also surrounded by talent in New Orleans.

    The competition for the backup role includes second-year player Andrew Walter and Marques Tuiasosopo. Tuiasosopo looked strong in this past weekend's camp, throwing tight spirals and hitting the proper reads in coverage. Team officials are enamored with the big arm of Walter, and he will get an extended look for the backup role to Brooks. With the strong collection of receiving options on the Raiders roster, whoever is under center will have an opportunity to produce.

    18. Pittsburgh Steelers
    The Steelers don't ask Ben Roethlisberger to carry them, but he has the arm to do so if necessary. Roethlisberger accounted for multiple touchdowns in each of his first six games ahead of his knee injury. The running game still rules, but Roethlisberger figures to crack 20 touchdown passes for the first time this year.

    Should Roethlisberger get hurt again, the Steelers offense will focus entirely on the running game. Batch played in three games last year and threw a total of 36 passes with one touchdown and one interception. The Steelers racked up 95 points in those games. Omar Jacobs was drafted from Bowling Green to compete for the backup role come 2007.

    19. Baltimore Ravens
    The Ravens quarterback situation remains in a state of flux. For the moment, they carry only two quarterbacks on the roster, Kyle Boller and Brian St. Pierre. Former backup Wright signed with the Bengals this off-season as the primary backup to Palmer. There remains widespread speculation that Titans quarterback McNair will eventually ink a deal to join Baltimore in spite of the best efforts of Titans coach Jeff Fisher.

    Boller came on strong late in the year with three three-touchdown games down the stretch in an effort to secure his job for 2006. The arbitrator is scheduled to rule in the next 2-3 weeks and will decide McNair's fate.

    20. Chicago Bears
    Chicago made the playoffs in spite of their quarterback play in 2005. Rookie Kyle Orton was efficient in leading the offense, but the team could not rely on him for the big completion. This season, the Bears will seek to find balance in the offense. Rex Grossman returns from another injury-shortened season to compete with off-season acquisition Brian Griese for the starting role.

    Both players will offer top receiver Muhsin Muhammad more opportunities to make plays, and deep threats Bernard Berrian and Justin Gage will become factors in the Chicago offense. Chicago won't rank among the top producers at the position with the reliance on the running game, but they'll be much improved over 2005.

    21. Seattle Seahawks
    Matt Hasselbeck has clearly moved into the upper echelon of NFL quarterbacks with an average of 24 touchdown passes over the past three seasons. Hasselbeck was the model of efficiency a season ago, completing 65.5 percent of his passes for 3,459 yards.

    The players currently behind Hasselbeck on the depth chart have little experience between them. Seneca Wallace has been with the team since 2003, but saw his first game action at quarterback last season. Even then, he threw only 25 passes over seven appearances (9-for-17 for 98 yards, one touchdown and one interception in his most extensive action in a season-ending loss). The Seahawks drafted David Greene out of Georgia in the third round of last season's draft.

    22. New York Jets
    The Jets bolstered their quarterback situation with the addition of Patrick Ramsey this off-season. Barring a series of injuries that claims Chad Pennington (again), as well as Ramsey and 2006 draft choice Kellen Clemens, Vinny Testaverde will remain on the couch.

    Pennington is ahead of schedule on his recovery from shoulder surgery and contends that he can make all of the required throws. Coach Eric Mangini is insistent that the quarterback position is open for competition this spring. Laveranues Coles and Justin McCareins are hoping for some semblance of consistency to raise their production.

    23. Kansas City Chiefs
    The Chiefs enter the season with 36-year-old quarterback Trent Green at the helm. Green saw his touchdown production drop markedly last year with a series of injuries on the offensive line and the emergence of tailback Larry Johnson. Since joining the Chiefs in 2001, Green has not missed a start and has topped 3,600 passing yards in five consecutive seasons.

    The battle for the backup role in Kansas City comes down to Damon Huard, who hasn't taken a snap since 2003 in New England, or rookie Brodie Croyle, who performed well in this weekend's rookie camp. The Chiefs are impressed by Croyle's arm strength, which may give him a chance to supplant the veteran Huard for the top backup spot.

    24. Dallas Cowboys

    Drew Bledsoe will have no shortage of weapons when he takes the field with Dallas' offense in 2006. (Ronald Martinez / Getty Images)

    Bill Parcells turns to veteran quarterback Drew Bledsoe for a second season. Bledsoe threw 23 touchdown passes a season ago, and welcomes top-flight wide receiver Terrell Owens to the mix this year. The combination of Owens, Terry Glenn and tight end Jason Witten signals a big year ahead for the Cowboys offense.

    The Cowboys continue to run with Parcells favorite Tony Romo as the backup for Bledsoe. Romo has never attempted an NFL pass in his four seasons with the Cowboys, and third-string quarterback Drew Henson hasn't seen the field since an abbreviated turn as the starter in 2004. The strong complement of skill position players in Dallas will take some of the pressure off the quarterback, but the values of all Cowboys players dip with an injury to the statuesque Bledsoe.

    25. Carolina Panthers
    Jake Delhomme of the Panthers has established himself as a bona fide fantasy starter in his last two seasons, averaging 3,654 yards and 26 touchdown passes. This year, he'll add Keyshawn Johnson and speedy Drew Carter to fantasy hero Steve Smith in the receiving corps. When he's on the field, the Panthers will rank among the league's top scoring units.

    After Delhomme, the quality of quarterbacks drops off substantially. Chris Weinke hasn't seen extensive playing time since 2001 when he appeared in 15 games. He's thrown only 51 passes in the last four seasons. Weinke will battle second-year quarterback Stefan LeFors for the backup role.

    26. Green Bay Packers
    The Packers get to put off the quest to replace Brett Favre for (at least) one more season, as the future Hall of Famer returns to Green Bay. In an injury-decimated offense, Favre threw 20 touchdowns and 29 interceptions in 2005. With a full season of health and some consistency on the offensive line, Favre may be able to find some balance and improve on his stats.

    In limited duty last season, Aaron Rodgers demonstrated that he'll need at least another full NFL cycle before he's ready to contribute at a high level. The Packers drafted Ingle Martin IV from Florida this April to round out the position.

    27. New Orleans Saints
    The Saints addressed their quarterback situation by turning to the efficient former leader of the Chargers, Drew Brees. Brees completed 65 percent of his pass attempts over the past two years and tossed 51 touchdown passes. At this stage of his rehabilitation, the Saints are confident that Brees will be ready for the season opener.

    The Saints are shaky at quarterback behind Brees. Todd Bouman struggled in relief of Brooks last year, completing 55.7 percent of his passes and throwing two touchdowns and seven interceptions. Third on the depth chart is young Adrian McPherson, who has a world of talent, but is extremely raw. He'll need at least another year of learning before he's ready to contribute.

    28. Buffalo Bills
    The Bills enter the 2006 season with continued questions about the quarterback position. New coach Dick Jauron opted to go heavy with defense in the draft, leaving the trio of Kelly Holcomb, J.P. Losman and Craig Nall to compete for the starting role this season. Losman has the edge going in, but Holcomb's experience may win out with the conservative Jauron.

    Buffalo returns speed receiver Lee Evans, who ascends to the No. 1 role with the loss of Eric Moulds, but the remaining Bills receivers have question marks attached to them. Andre' Davis has shown flashes of ability between injuries, and Peerless Price tries to reclaim his place in the game by returning to the scene of his biggest triumphs.

    29. San Diego Chargers
    Drew Brees left San Diego for a big contract in New Orleans, leaving third-year quarterback Philip Rivers at the control. Rivers will pin his success this year on the heavy use of running back LaDainian Tomlinson and tight end Antonio Gates, much like Drew Brees did the past two seasons. Rivers has worked hard this off-season to build better relationships with his teammates and to improve his timing with receivers Keenan McCardell and Eric Parker.

    Behind first-year starter Rivers stand former Eagles and Dolphins backup A.J. Feeley and rookie Charlie Whitehurst. Whitehurst gained the early edge in the backup competition with a strong camp this weekend. Feeley struggled with his early throws, making several bad reads that resulted in interceptions. Regardless, this trio had limited experience on the field (just 554 pass attempts between them).

    30. Houston Texans
    Gary Kubiak is convinced that he can make a star out of David Carr. The Texans passed over the quarterbacks in this year's draft, declined to sign one of the higher-priced veterans on the free agent market and paid a huge roster bonus to their fifth-year quarterback. Houston added veteran receiver Eric Moulds to complement Andre Johnson and signed tight end Jeb Putzier.

    Dave Ragone and Sage Rosenfels (from Miami) will compete for the backup role in Houston. Given the heavy sack total amassed by Carr over the past several seasons, there's always a chance that an injury may occur. Ragone hasn't seen the field since his rookie year in 2003, and Rosenfels played sparingly in Miami. The near future of the franchise rests squarely on Carr's right arm.

    31. San Francisco *****
    The ***** enter the season with second-year player Alex Smith as the starter. To say that Smith struggled in 2005 would be an understatement, as he tossed only one touchdown pass against 11 interceptions. To aid in his development, and to provide a veteran presence should Smith struggle again, the ***** dealt for Trent Dilfer this off-season. Dilfer contemplated retirement this off-season and is currently recovering from knee surgery. Though the ***** upgraded the receiving corps with the selection of tight end Vernon Davis and the signing of Antonio Bryant, it still figures to be another rebuilding season in San Francisco.

    32. Cleveland Browns
    The deal that sent Dilfer to the ***** solidifies Charlie Frye's claim to the starting quarterback position. Frye demonstrated solid ability as a rookie in several games last year by completing 60 percent of his passes for 1,002 yards, four touchdowns and five interceptions. The Browns figure to rely heavily on the legs of Reuben Droughns to aid Frye's development.

    Ken Dorsey slides into the backup role upon his acquisition from San Francisco. Dorsey struggled in 12 appearances for the ***** over two seasons with eight touchdowns, 11 interceptions and a quarterback rating of 63.7.

    I'll continue my tour through the offensive units tomorrow with a glimpse at the running back position. Who's got the goods to rise to the top? Chicago? New Orleans?

    Let the debate begin.
    RamsFan16

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    Re: Team Postion Rankings

    Team WR rankings: T.O. boosts Dallas to sixth

    Michael Harmon / FOXSports.com
    Posted: 5 days ago

    Team rankings: QB | RB | WR | TE

    The off-season FOXSports.com NFL caravan rolls on.




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    Fantasy Football Draft Info
    Mike Harmon offers draft expert advice to help you stay ahead of the competition. Check back during training camp and the season for weekly columns.
    NFL draft analysis
    # Winners, losers: Who benefits, loses
    # Rookies: Offense | Defense
    # Live at draft: 1st round | Rds 2-3
    Player rankings
    # Overall: Top 400 | IDP
    # Offense: QB | RB | WR | TE | K
    # Defense: Team | DL | LB | DB
    # Sleepers: Offense | IDP
    # NFL Draft: Top 15 prospects
    Roger Rotter brings insight to help owners win their leagues. Check out his draft columns and spins on breaking news during the off-season.
    Draft analysis
    # QB: Arizona's Leinart rates first
    # RB: Indy's Addai tops rookies
    Off-season movement
    # QB: Culpepper to rebound?
    # RB: James to burn in Arizona?
    # WR: Owens to star again
    # K: Vinatieri's No. 1
    # OL: Vikings nab Hutchinson
    Sleepers
    # Breakthrough stars, QB, RB and WR
    Fantasy spins
    # Brett Favre: Elevates RB, WR
    # Ricky Williams: Helps Brown
    # Drew Brees: Stats to drop
    # Daunte Culpepper: Stock rises
    # Terrell Owens: Jumps as a Cowboy
    # Mike Martz: Improves Lions' offense

    This week, I'm breaking down the world of wide receivers, reviewing offensive philosophies, personnel and ego for each team and assigning a rank. This process is part art, part science and a bit of gut feeling about the events to transpire this fall.

    The list begins with the high-flying offense of the Colts. Fantasy owners are a little gun shy in early drafts I've seen this year after perhaps being left at the altar during championship week because of the Colts' early clinching of home field advantage. The loss of Edgerrin James may also be playing a factor.

    I'm expecting more exploding scoreboards and piles of points at the RCA Dome this year. That's why Indianapolis lead my rankings.

    1. Indianapolis Colts
    Something had to give after the record setting season of 2004 in Indianapolis. The Colts' talented trio watched their overall totals dip from the prior season, but Indianapolis receivers as a whole trailed only Cincinnati for the NFL lead (31 total touchdowns).

    Marvin Harrison is rehabbing from a second elbow surgery, but should be ready to go full-speed come training camp. Harrison caught 82 passes for 1,146 yards and 12 touchdowns last year. Running mate Reggie Wayne added 83 receptions for 1,055 yards and five touchdowns. They're back in tow for another run and will once again be joined by Brandon Stokley, whose stats took the biggest hit from 2004. Stokley caught only one touchdown pass after exploding on the scene with 10 scores in 2004.

    Aaron Morehead and Roscoe Crosby round out the receiving corps for Indianapolis in 2006. The effect of Edgerrin James' departure remains to be seen, but the combination of Joseph Addai and Dominic Rhodes appears to be more than capable to keep the digits on the Indianapolis pinball machine rolling.

    2. Arizona Cardinals
    Anquan Boldin and Larry Fitzgerald look to continue their magic after a brilliant 2005 season. The pair combined for 205 receptions, 2,811 yards and 17 touchdowns last year without benefit of a running game. The Cardinals instead turned to the duo in short routes and let them make plays. The addition of Edgerrin James therefore cuts into their opportunities, but will instead give them more quality opportunities.

    Behind this duo stands Bryant Johnson, who caught 40 balls for 432 yards. James' addition should benefit Johnson perhaps most of all this year. The Cardinals added veteran Troy Walters as a possession receiver. Seventh-round selection from 2005 LeRon McCoy also contributed 18 catches. He's see some time in three-receiver sets.

    3.Cincinnati Bengals
    Cincinnati wide receivers shone brightly in 2005 during Carson Palmer's breakout year. Chad Johnson and T.J. Houshmandzadeh became household names. This dynamic duo combined for 175 catches, 2,388 receiving yards and 16 touchdowns. The weekly contributions of these players in 2005 boggled the mind.

    The Bengals' third receiver in 2005 faces some legal troubles heading into training camp. Chris Henry caught 31 passes for 422 yards and six touchdowns a year ago. Former Packers wide receiver Antonio Chatman (49 receptions, 549 receiving yards and four touchdowns) and 2003 draft pick Kelley Washington (seven games and 10 receptions) will compete against Tab Perry (four receptions, 21 yards and one touchdown) for the third slot.

    4. Oakland Raiders
    On paper, the Raiders enter the season positively stacked at wide receiver. Oakland enters training camp with six viable options at the position, led by all-world talent Randy Moss. Running opposite Moss is Jerry Porter who frustrated fantasy owners in 2005 but still finished with a solid season for a No. 2 option (76 receptions, 942 receiving yards, five touchdowns).

    Ronald Curry had hoped to build on a brilliant 2004 year, but saw his season end prematurely in Week 2. He will enter camp in competition with Doug Gabriel (554 receiving yards and three touchdowns) for the third receiver slot.

    Alvis Whitted, Johnnie Morant, Carlos Francis and Randal Williams will battle for the remaining roster slots behind the big four.

    The key to the equation remains the consistency of the quarterback. Kerry Collins shone brightly on occasion, but was disappointing on the whole in 2005. He's been replaced by Aaron Brooks, a quarterback who has been plagued by erratic tosses and spotty decision-making in the past.

    5. St. Louis Rams
    The mad genius Mike Martz has moved on to Detroit, but the strong passing game and receiving quartet remains intact. The Rams figure to feature running back Steven Jackson more prominently this year, but a healthy Marc Bulger and company will still put up numbers.

    Torry Holt quietly puts up huge numbers year after year. He'll be joined once again by Isaac Bruce, who missed five games last season and watched his productivity drop markedly (decreases of 53 receptions, 767 receiving yards and three touchdowns). Shaun McDonald and Kevin Curtis combined for 106 catches and 1,324 receiving yards last season.

    6. Dallas Cowboys

    Terry Glenn (above) should see more single-coverage with defenses shifting their focus toward Terrell Owens. (Ronald Martinez / Getty Images)

    The biggest splash of the off-season came when Terrell Owens signed his deal with the Cowboys, thus ending the soap opera in Philadelphia. Owens brings his all-world talent and game-changing abilities to Drew Bledsoe and the Cowboys. Many await the inevitable meltdown and off-field distractions that come with having Owens on a roster. I believe those occur in 2007.

    The Cowboys will run Terry Glenn opposite Owens. The double-teams sent to Owens will leave the speedy Glenn to thrive in single coverage. Glenn topped 1,000 receiving yards for the first time since 1999 and established a new career mark with seven touchdowns.

    Patrick Crayton returns as the third receiver. He started last season strong before an injury sidelined him for five games and hampered him substantially for the remainder of the year. He'll face competition in training camp from rookie Skyler Green from LSU. Either way, between Owens, Glenn, Julius Jones and the tight end tandem, there won't be many balls left for the remainder of the receiving corps.

    7. Washington Redskins
    Santana Moss teamed with the Washington tight ends to put up huge numbers for the Redskins last year. He was a veritable one man wrecking crew last season as the next leading receiver for the Redskins was David Patten with 22 receptions. The Redskins addressed this issue in the off-season by opening the wallet to bring aboard Brandon Lloyd and Super Bowl hero Antwaan Randle El. This trio may be smallish, but they'll win out on speed and athleticism to let Mark Brunell throw quick routes and allow the receivers to make plays.

    The aforementioned Patten is expected to be released before training camp, which will leave Taylor Jacobs and James Thrash to battle for reps behind the talented trio up front.

    8. Jacksonville Jaguars
    The Jacksonville offense took a hit last month when Jimmy Smith called it quits after recording his ninth 1,000-yard season in 2005. They had put themselves in the best position possible with the selection of several wide receivers in the last two drafts. Former college quarterback, turned-wide receiver Matt Jones showed great athleticism and ability in his first year as a receiver. He'll only get better in year two as he battles third-year receiver Ernest Wilford for the top spot. Wilford emerged as a tremendous red zone option last season with 681 receiving yards and seven touchdowns. Smith's retirement puts Wilford in a great position to catapult into fantasy stardom.

    The ascent of Jones and Wilford thrusts Reggie Williams into the third role. Williams made some steps forward last season, raising both his reception total and average yards per catch. He's certainly under the microscope after being passed on the depth chart by Wilford, who was drafted several rounds later in 2004. Cortez Hankton and Chad Owens will compete for the fourth slot this season.

    9. Seattle Seahawks
    The Seahawks were the most proficient offense in the NFL last year, piling more than 28 points per game. They achieved this level of performance despite playing without top option Darrell Jackson for much of the year. Mike Holmgren effectively utilized the big play ability of Joe Jurevicius for 10 touchdowns.

    Bobby Engram assumed a larger role with 67 receptions and 778 receiving yards. He'll move back to the No. 3 role this season with the off-season acquisition of Nate Burleson. Burleson missed much of the 2005 season with an injury after his huge 2004 campaign (1,006 receiving yards, nine touchdowns).

    Rounding out the receiving corps will be D.J. Hackett and former No. 1 overall draft pick Peter Warrick.

    10. Carolina Panthers
    The addition of Owens in Dallas left veteran receiver Keyshawn Johnson expendable. He enters a perfect situation here, as speedster Steve Smith draws the double-team on the outside and allows Johnson to work over a cleared-out middle of the defense. Johnson caught 71 passes for 839 yards and six touchdowns last season for the Cowboys.

    There will likely be a three-man battle for the third receiver slot in training camp. Keary Colbert regressed to 25 receptions for 282 receiving yards and two touchdowns after a strong rookie season in 2004 (47 receptions, 754 yards and five touchdowns). He'll battle 6-foot-3 deep threat Drew Carter, who became a factor late in the year and in the NFC playoffs after returning from injury, and little-used veteran Karl Hankton.

    11. New Orleans Saints
    The 2005 season was filled with heartbreak and frustration for the Saints. They played without a home and spent much of their free time attending to the devastation of Hurricane Katrina. That frustration showed on the field and prompted change to revitalize the squad.

    The Saints changed out quarterbacks with the signing of Drew Brees and added another piece to the backfield in Reggie Bush. The receiving corps remains intact, led by veteran Joe Horn. Injuries kept Horn out of three games and parts of others which resulted in his lowest reception and receiving yard totals since 1999 in Kansas City.

    Horn will be joined in the receiving corps by Donte' Stallworth, who continues to battle minor injuries and lapses in concentration. Nate Poole and Devery Henderson will enter camp in competition for the third receiver role. The speedy Henderson has a leg up as a deep ball threat. He caught 22 passes for 343 yards last season with three scores. He's worth a look-see in the late rounds with Brees under center.

    12. Detroit Lions
    The toys in the Detroit cupboard are well-known. The 2006 Lions offense will see Mike Martz behind the controls with a new quarterback duo of Josh McCown and Jon Kitna. We'll see if he can cure some of the ills of the past several years.

    Roy Williams is a tremendous force when he's on the field, but he continues to battle nagging injury concerns. Charles Rogers has battled injuries and suspensions to appear in only 15 games over three years. Mike Williams came into camp unprepared for the rigors of pro ball after 18 months away from football.

    The second-leading receiver to Roy Williams in 2005 was Scottie Vines. Vines caught 40 passes for 417 yards and will be given every opportunity to hold off his more heralded colleagues for a role this year.

    13. Denver Broncos

    Ashley Lelie is unhappy dropping to No. 3 on the depth chart, and he may be departing Denver before the start of the season. (Brian Bahr / Getty Images)

    The Broncos moved up in the first round of the 2006 draft to select Jay Cutler as the heir apparent to Jake Plummer. It was no surprise that they moved immediately thereafter to find him (and Plummer for 2006) another target to complement veteran standout Rod Smith (1,105 receiving yards, 6 touchdowns). Denver made the move during day one of the draft to trade their second-round selection to Green Bay for disgruntled receiver Javon Walker. Walker left the 2005 season opener with a knee injury and did not return. Battles with management necessitated the move, but it's now caused an issue on the Denver roster.

    Ashley Lelie regressed in 2005 after a breakout year in 2004. He finished with 12 fewer catches, 300 fewer yards and six fewer touchdowns in 2005. Lelie now wants out of Denver based on his demotion to the third receiver role with the addition of Walker. Time will tell whether he'll still be in tow as training camp hits. Behind him sit Todd Devoe, inconsistent third-year receiver Darius Watts, Charlie Adams and fourth-round selection Brandon Marshall from Central Florida.

    Denver will still be a run-heavy offense behind Tatum Bell and Ron Dayne, but the addition of Walker offers Plummer another consistent receiving option and sure-handed red zone target.

    14. San Diego Chargers
    Keenan McCardell put forth a huge year for the Chargers last season at the age of 35. He caught 70 passes for 917 yards and a career-high nine touchdowns. McCardell leads the team into 2006 and will serve as a steadying force for first-year start Philip Rivers. McCardell will be teamed with Eric Parker, who came on strong in the second half of the 2005 season. Parker finished with 57 receptions for 725 yards and three touchdowns. Despite the fact that Rivers is a first-time starter, Parker stands as one of my sleeper picks for this year. The presence of LaDainian Tomlinson and Antonio Gates will leave this speedy receiver to torch man coverage.

    The Chargers have two strong players at the position, but there is a significant drop-off in experience thereafter. San Diego added former ***** first-round washout Rashaun Woods through a trade. He'll battle Kassim Osgood and Vincent Jackson for the third receiver role. I'm looking squarely at Jackson as one to watch this season. The 6-foot-5 second-round selection from last year causes match-up problems and could become a force in the red zone.

    15. Miami Dolphins
    Miami revamped the passing game by changing out its quarterback tandem for 2006. Gone are A.J. Feeley and Gus Frerotte. They've been replaced by Daunte Culpepper and Joey Harrington, both of whom exit tempestuous situations. The receiving corps looks much the same as it did last season, led by Chris Chambers and Marty Booker. The duo combined to tally 121 receptions, 1,804 receiving yards and 14 touchdowns in 2005.

    Wes Welker had the third-most catches among Dolphins wide receivers last year with 29. The Dolphins would like him to concentrate on his return duties for 2006. Therefore, they used their third-round pick this year on the all-time leading receiver for the Arizona State Sun Devils, Derek Hagan. At 6-foot-2 and 209 pounds, Hagan offers another sizable receiving option for the Culpepper/Harrington tandem.

    16. Atlanta Falcons
    Atlanta used top selections on receivers in 2004 and 2005, and Jim Mora and company will look for those players to pay huge dividends this season. Michael Jenkins and Roddy White worked extensively with quarterback Michael Vick this off-season to improve their timing, which should vastly improve the passing game to go alongside the perennial top ranking ground game. The duo combined for 65 catches, 954 receiving yards and six touchdowns a year ago.

    Veteran Brian Finneran returns in the third slot. The reliable veteran led all Falcons wide receivers with 50 catches for 611 yards a season ago. The Falcons added a speed option in Adam Jennings from Fresno State in the sixth round of the draft to execute deep patterns.

    17. Minnesota Vikings
    The Vikings continue to rebuild their squad under first-year coach Brad Childress. In just two seasons, the team has replaced former stars Culpepper, Moss and Burleson. In their places stand veteran quarterback Brad Johnson and receivers Travis Taylor and Koren Robinson.

    Taylor led Vikings receivers with 50 receptions for 604 yards and four touchdowns a season ago, which constitutes a nice rebound from his early struggles in Baltimore. Robinson was signed as an injury replacement in-season and offered a great speed option to Johnson. Troy Williamson flashed great playmaking ability in his abbreviated time on the field. Minnesota expects Williamson to return at full speed by the end of September. Marcus Robinson also pulled down five touchdowns in his 31 receptions last year.

    Entering the season, all of the Minnesota options carry question marks. There's certainly great talent here, but past health and motivation concerns temper expectations.

    18. Tennessee Titans
    Tennessee added a veteran receiver in David Givens to pair with Drew Bennett while the Titans await the development of a plethora of young receivers. Brandon Jones, Courtney Roby and Roydell Williams each showed ability as rookies in 2005, but injuries stalled their progress. Of the trio, Jones stands as the favorite to win the No. 3 role behind Givens and Bennett. The Titans will also welcome back Tyrone Calico to the mix during training camp. He's been limited by injuries the last two seasons, but remains on the radar due to his tremendous 6-foot-4 frame and leaping abilities. Calico could be a red-zone threat much like Jurevicius was in 2005 if he remains healthy.

    19. New York Giants
    The Giants are an early NFC Super Bowl favorite based on the legs of Tiki Barber and arm of Eli Manning. His top target remains Plaxico Burress, who topped 1,000 yards receiving for the first time in three years in 2005 (1,214). He caught 76 passes and made seven touchdown receptions. Burress will be teamed with long-time Giants star Amani Toomer, who recovered nicely from a subpar 2004 campaign. Though Toomer failed to crack the 1,000-yard mark for the second straight year, he did catch seven touchdown passes.

    New York added Sinorice Moss in the second round of this year's draft. He'll offer the deep ball threat that has been missing for the Giants. Moss will have every opportunity to win the third role from the oft-injured and inconsistent trio of Tim Carter, Willie Ponder and David Tyree.

    20. Green Bay Packers
    The injuries in the Packers backfield were well-chronicled. What has been lost in the dissection of Brett Favre's disastrous 2005 season were the number of injuries and absences on the offensive line and in the receiving corps. Walker was lost in Week 1 for the season, and Robert Ferguson missed five games and parts of several others.

    The Packers return Donald Driver (86 receptions, 1,221 receiving yards and five touchdowns) and Ferguson in the starting lineup. Green Bay drafted Greg Jennings this April to shore up the receiving corps. He'll compete with off-season acquisition Marc Boerigter and former Washington standout Rod Gardner for the third spot in training camp. Gardner is one to watch as the season approaches.

    21. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
    Jon Gruden relied heavily on the legs of Carnell Williams and the receiving talents of Joey Galloway in 2005. Galloway established new career-highs with 83 receptions and 1,287 receiving yards, and reached double-digit touchdowns for the first time since 1998.

    The drop-off at receiver after Galloway was significant. The next leading receiver was 2004 rookie phenom Michael Clayton, whose production dipped to 32 catches for 372 yards and zero touchdowns last year. Veteran Ike Hilliard offered 35 receptions for 282 receiving yards, and Edell Shepherd caught six passes for 103 receiving yards. Of the returning players beside Galloway, Shepherd offers the best chance to breakout and become a fantasy factor. He appears to be entering camp in a battle with Michael Clayton for the No. 2 spot.

    The Buccaneers added 6-foot-4 receiver Maurice Stovall from Notre Dame in the draft and recently signed former Arizona Cardinals star David Boston last week. Both players could become factors in the red zone given their size and strength.

    22. Philadelphia Eagles

    Reggie Brown is Philadelphia's new No. 1 wideout and hopes to become Donovan McNabb's go-to-receiver. (Harry How / Getty Images)

    The Eagles begin life without the drama of Owens. Second-year receiver Reggie Brown finished last season with 43 catches, 571 yards and four touchdowns. He assumes the top spot with Owens' departure. He'll be joined in the starting lineup by Todd Pinkston. Pinkston missed the entire 2005 season with a leg injury.

    The third spot will be hotly contested by a quartet. Off-season acquisition Jabar Gaffney caught 55 balls for 492 yards for Houston last season. He'll compete with Greg Lewis (48 catches, 561 yards and one touchdown), and rookies Jason Avant and Jeremy Bloom.

    23. Kansas City Chiefs
    The first name associated with the Chiefs' passing game remains Tony Gonzalez, but we'll focus on the wideouts for this analysis. Tight ends will be considered separately.

    Veteran Eddie Kennison achieved new career marks in both receptions (68) and receiving yards (1,102) in 2005. Running opposite Kennison this season is one of my sleeper selections, third-year receiver Samie Parker. Parker became a bigger part of the Chiefs offense in the second half of 2005 with 27 catches for 378 yards (54 yards per game). Three quarters of Kennison's catches in the second half went for first downs.

    Veteran return man Dante Hall increased his role in the passing game last year with 34 receptions and a career-high 436 yards. The Chiefs will look for Jeris McIntyre and Craphonso Thorpe to emerge this summer to challenge for the third receiver slot. Neither player has a catch at the NFL level.

    24. New England Patriots
    New England changed out components of its receiving corps this off-season. Deion Branch (998 receiving yards, five touchdowns) remains the top option for Tom Brady, but the cast behind him has changed drastically except for one familiar face. Troy Brown returns to the receiving corps full-time after splitting time with the defense in 2005.

    The Patriots added two new faces to compete for the No. 2 role opposite Branch. Reche Caldwell joins the club after four seasons of unfulfilled promise in San Diego. He'll try to fend off 2006 draft pick (and fellow Florida product) Chad Jackson for the role. Jackson impressed coaches in early drills during a May mini-camp.

    Brandon Childress and Bethel Johnson will battle for the remaining roster slots.

    25. Baltimore Ravens
    The Ravens addressed the receiving corps last year through free agency with Derrick Mason and the draft with Mark Clayton. Despite the inconsistency of quarterbacks Kyle Boller and Anthony Wright, Mason achieved another 1,000-yard receiving season (1,073) and the rookie Clayton caught 44 balls for 471 yards.

    Baltimore went back to the NFL Draft for additional help this season with the selection of Demetrius Williams in the fourth round. Williams will battle 2004 producer Clarence Moore (24 receptions, 293 yards and four touchdowns) and third-year man Devard Darling for the third slot.

    26. Pittsburgh Steelers
    The Steelers receiving corps will continue to be anchored by Super Bowl MVP Hines Ward. Ward earned his third double-digit touchdown season in the last four years in 2005 (11). He'll be joined in the starting lineup by Cedrick Wilson, who performed well in the AFC Playoffs last year. Wilson caught eight passes for 196 yards and two touchdowns in the Steelers' playoff run.

    Pittsburgh lost Antwaan Randle El to Washington this off-season. He was replaced this off-season with another speedy option in first-round selection Santonio Holmes from Ohio State. Behind this trio stands a group of inexperienced options, led by Lee May (nine receptions for 137 yards in 2005). He's joined by Nate Washington, Sean Morey, Walter Young and third-round selection Willie Reid. Reid is expected to make more of an impact on special teams in his rookie season.

    27. Cleveland Browns
    Romeo Crennel switched out one big receiver for another this off-season. Top option in 2005 Antonio Bryant left for San Francisco, and 10-touchdown producer Joe Jurevicius came in from Seattle. He'll be counted on for veteran leadership and red-zone dominance alongside possession receiver Dennis Northcutt (42 receptions, 441 receiving yards and two touchdowns) among a mostly green receiving corps.

    Braylon Edwards showed great field presence and speed in his short time on the field in 2005. The latest reports have him sidelined for perhaps the first month of the regular season. Behind Edwards is Frisman Jackson, who contributed most of his 2005 totals in a huge Week 1 effort. He finished 2005 with 24 catches for 287 yards and a touchdown. Third-round selection Travis Wilson is expected to challenge Jackson and Northcutt for playing time.

    28. Houston Texans
    The addition of Eric Moulds finally puts a top-tier receiver opposite Andre Johnson. Moulds caught 81 passes for 816 yards in a sputtering Buffalo offense and should help to keep Johnson engaged in the game. At times, the frustration of another rough season for the Texans showed on Johnson. He finished with 63 receptions for 688 yards and two touchdowns.

    The talent level drops off markedly from these two stars with Chris Doering, Kevin Walter, Derick Armstrong and David Anderson competing for time behind Moulds and Johnson.

    29. Buffalo Bills
    The Bills bid farewell to longtime leading receiver Eric Moulds this off-season, which elevated speedy Lee Evans to the top spot. Evans remains a viable deep ball threat, but the question remains as to whom will deliver him the ball in 2006. Buffalo enters training camp with three players (J.P. Losman, Kelly Holcomb and Craig Nall) battling for the starting quarterback job.

    Buffalo also has big questions at receiver behind Evans. Peerless Price returned to the Bills after several unsuccessful seasons in Atlanta. Can he rediscover his early magic without Drew Bledsoe and Eric Moulds in tow? Andre' Davis showed flashes of talent in Cleveland, but hasn't been able to remain healthy. Josh Reed also has shown himself to be a solid possession receiver at times, but can he battle back to his 2003 form (58 receptions, 588 receiving yards and two touchdowns)?

    Roscoe Parrish and Sam Aiken will serve as lesser options to start the season

    30. New York Jets
    The Jets moved this off-season to shore up the quarterback position, which will serve to improve the receiving corps by default. Despite the struggles at quarterback, Laveranues Coles pieced together a solid season in 2005. He caught 73 passes for 845 receiving yards and five touchdowns after scoring only once in 90 receptions in 2004. Coles will line up opposite Justin McCareins, who saw his production hampered tremendously by the inability of Jets quarterbacks to throw the ball downfield. Of course, McCareins didn't help himself with a number of drops.

    New coach Eric Mangini will try to find another playmaker from the group of Tim Dwight, Dante Ridgeway, Jerricho Cotchery and rookie Brad Smith. Of the group, veteran wideout Dwight is the most experienced and steady performer. He came to the Jets this off-season with former Patriots staffer Mangini. Dwight will be counted on to help speed the learning curve of the young Jets receivers. One player to watch will be former Missouri quarterback Brad Smith, who will try to follow the blueprint to success set forth by Matt Jones of the Jaguars in 2005.

    31. Chicago Bears
    To no one's surprise, the Bears ranked 31st in receiving yards per game in 2005. Muhsin Muhammad and the passing game took a backseat to the running game. Muhammad led Bears receivers with 64 receptions, 750 receiving yards and four touchdowns after his monstrous 2004 campaign in Carolina. The Chicago coaching staff expects that second-year receiver Mark Bradley will return from off-season knee surgery in time to reclaim the No. 2 role in training camp.

    The battle for the third receiver role pits the long and lanky Justin Gage against the speedy Bernard Berrian. Berrian emerged as a valuable downfield weapon in the second half of the year. A full season of health for Rex Grossman and Brian Griese speaks well for a significant up-tick in his opportunities.

    Rashied Davis and Airese Currie offer depth at the position. The Chicago coaching staff believes that Currie will develop into an NFL starter.

    32. San Francisco *****
    San Francisco let athletic receiver Brandon Lloyd sign away to the Redskins and then added Bryant in his place. He had the best overall season of his career with the Browns last year when he compiled 69 receptions, 1,009 receiving yards and four touchdowns. After a strong 2002 rookie season in Dallas, Bryant disappeared in 2003 and early 2004 before joining the Browns. His impact on the development of Alex Smith remains to be seen.

    The ***** will run Arnaz Battle opposite Bryant. Battle compiled 32 catches for 363 yards and three scores between injuries last year. Mike Nolan and the coaching staff expect an immediate contribution from third-round selection Brandon Williams. Williams has good hands and game-changing speed. Former Dolphins receiver Bryan Gilmore and Rasheed Marshall round out a mostly inexperienced ***** receiving corps.

    In the next stop on the tour, I'll review the tight end position. It went unnoticed for years, but has emerged as a key variable in fantasy draft strategy over the last three years.
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    Re: Team Postion Rankings

    Team TE rankings: Titans lead

    FOXSports.com
    Posted: 5 days ago

    Team rankings: QB | RB | WR | TE

    My off-season fantasy football caravan continues this week with a review of the oft-overlooked tight end position.




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    Fantasy Football Draft Info
    Mike Harmon offers draft expert advice to help you stay ahead of the competition. Check back during training camp and the season for weekly columns.
    NFL draft analysis
    # Winners, losers: Who benefits, loses
    # Rookies: Offense | Defense
    # Live at draft: 1st round | Rds 2-3
    Player rankings
    # Overall: Top 400 | IDP
    # Offense: QB | RB | WR | TE | K
    # Defense: Team | DL | LB | DB
    # Sleepers: Offense | IDP
    # NFL Draft: Top 15 prospects
    Roger Rotter brings insight to help owners win their leagues. Check out his draft columns and spins on breaking news during the off-season.
    Draft analysis
    # QB: Arizona's Leinart rates first
    # RB: Indy's Addai tops rookies
    Off-season movement
    # QB: Culpepper to rebound?
    # RB: James to burn in Arizona?
    # WR: Owens to star again
    # K: Vinatieri's No. 1
    # OL: Vikings nab Hutchinson
    Sleepers
    # Breakthrough stars, QB, RB and WR
    Fantasy spins
    # Brett Favre: Elevates RB, WR
    # Ricky Williams: Helps Brown
    # Drew Brees: Stats to drop
    # Daunte Culpepper: Stock rises
    # Terrell Owens: Jumps as a Cowboy
    # Mike Martz: Improves Lions' offense

    It was a position left to the wayside several years ago because of a lack of viable fantasy candidates at the position. Other than Tony Gonzalez and Shannon Sharpe, tight ends failed to spark much attention on draft day.

    The perception of the tight end position has changed in recent years as offenses have embraced shorter passing routes. Virtually all teams now have at least one viable receiver at the position, and some are stocked with two or more. Today's rankings include some thought about the offensive system and available personnel that surround the tight end as well as the viability of their backups. Therefore, the San Diego Chargers aren't rising to No. 1 on the strength of Antonio Gates on this list. Rather, that honor goes to the trio in Tennessee.

    1. Tennessee Titans
    Perhaps no team utilized the tight end position more effectively in 2005 than the Titans. Ben Troupe, Erron Kinney and Bo Scaife combined for 147 receptions for 1,346 yards and eight touchdowns. The addition of David Givens to complement Drew Bennett will remove some of those looks in 2006, as will the continued development of the trio of 2005 draft picks. The tight end trio becomes infinitely more important if the reins are handed over to rookie Vince Young at any time this year.

    2. New England Patriots
    The Patriots utilize the tight end position as well as anyone in the game. Last year, New England tight ends were the recipients of 12 of the 28 touchdown passes thrown by Tom Brady and Matt Cassel.

    Rising star Ben Watson led the pack with 29 receptions for 441 yards and four scores, while Daniel Graham added 16 receptions for 235 yards and three scores in just seven games. Of course, Bill Belichick also throws wrinkles into his goal-line sets with defensive stalwarts Mike Vrabel (three touchdowns) and Richard Seymour getting in on the fun.

    New England added another playmaker in the draft with the selection of 6-foot-3 target David Thomas from Texas. With the need for playmakers in the receiving corps behind Deion Branch, Thomas figures to factor into the Patriots playbook early.

    3. Dallas Cowboys
    The Cowboys made a huge splash by adding controversial wideout Terrell Owens to the mix. He and Terry Glenn will cause fits for defensive coordinators, leaving tight ends Jason Witten and draft pick Anthony Fasano to wreak havoc in the middle of the field. Bill Parcells has spoken about his affinity for the two-tight end set and will seek to utilize that formation in 2006.

    Witten saw his receptions and receiving yards dip last year, but he remained a force in the red zone. Naturally, some of the quantity of looks to the tight end position will be swiped by Owens as Drew Bledsoe tries to make his new teammate happy, but the quality of the looks for Witten and Fasano will improve.

    4. Washington Redskins
    The Redskins relied primarily on Santana Moss and tight end Chris Cooley for much of their regular season success in 2005. Cooley caught 71 passes for 774 yards and seven touchdowns in his second NFL season. His reception total was more than double that of the third leading receiver for the Redskins last year (Clinton Portis with 30). The next leading wide receiver was David Patten with 22 receptions. Washington opened the wallet this off-season to add Brandon Lloyd and Antwaan Randle El. While that doesn't bode well for Cooley's overall receiving numbers, his role in the red zone will not be compromised.

    Veteran Christian Fauria joins the team after four years with the Patriots. He has specialized as a red-zone threat the last two seasons, ceding looks to younger options Ben Watson and Daniel Graham.

    5. Green Bay Packers

    Bubba Franks missed more than half of 2005 for the Packers, but he's expected to be back in action in 2006. (Jeff Gross / Getty Images)

    The Packers were hit from all sides by injuries in the offense last year. In addition to the loss of Javon Walker and a series of running backs, top tight end Bubba Franks missed nine games last year. David Martin and Donald Lee offered tremendous efforts among a sea of wide receivers to make up for Franks' absence. They combined for 60 receptions, 518 receiving yards and five touchdowns and stood as two of the positive performances in a lost season for the Packers. Green Bay enters training camp with all three players on the roster this season. They rank highly as a unit with three capable players, but the split workload mitigates their fantasy value.

    6. Seattle Seahawks
    Jerramy Stevens made a huge step in his performance last year, giving Seattle the big target they expected when he was selected in the first round. Stevens caught 45 balls for 554 yards and five scores last year, but fans and fantasy owners will no doubt remember him for some timely drops as well. His role grew as the season progressed and he will no doubt be counted on heavily this season again. The Seahawks lost red-zone target Joe Jurevicius to Cleveland this off-season, which indicates that Stevens' looks in close should rise as well.

    Veteran Itula Mili played in only two games last year, giving Stevens room to grow. He'll return to the field this year primarily to aid in blocking schemes for Shaun Alexander, but he can be a bigger factor if Stevens' drops continue.

    7. Baltimore Ravens
    Todd Heap struggled early in the year coming off of an ankle injury, but came on strong in the second half of the season to rank among the game's elite once again. Heap saved his best performance for a fantasy playoff week thrashing of the Packers on Monday night. He finished with 75 receptions for 855 yards and seven touchdowns despite the struggles of Kyle Boller. The possible acquisition of Steve McNair would not impact his status on this squad, as McNair is certainly accustomed to utilizing the tight end position.

    Daniel Wilcox offers a solid second option in two tight-end sets. Primarily used as a blocker, Wilcox has caught 45 passes for 373 yards and two scores in two years with the Ravens.

    8. San Diego Chargers
    Antonio Gates remains the leader at the position after posting his second consecutive double-digit touchdown season. Gates caught 89 passes for 1,101 yards and 10 touchdowns while missing the season opener following a contract squabble. He figures to remain a huge factor in the San Diego offense this season as Philip Rivers takes the reins from the departed Drew Brees.

    The Chargers shored up the position behind Gates by adding two solid possession receivers in Aaron Shea (18 catches, 153 yards and one touchdown) and Brandon Manumaleuna. Marty Schottenheimer figures to work the short passing game with this trio and running back LaDainian Tomlinson as Rivers gains his footing. This will, in turn, open up things downfield for Keenan McCardell and Eric Parker.

    9. Kansas City Chiefs
    In a "down" season, Tony Gonzalez still piled up numbers for the Chiefs in 2005. Gonzalez caught 78 passes for 905 receiving yards and two touchdowns. He was forced to stay in to block because of injuries on the offensive line and one needs only look to the huge touchdown total of Larry Johnson to know why his receiving touchdown total was down. The Chiefs line returns for 2006, and barring injury, so will Gonzalez's ability to get back into pass patterns in the red zone.

    The other tight ends on the roster, Jason Dunn and Kris Wilson, combined for eight receptions for 86 yards last year. Former second-round pick Wilson is one to watch this year with the departure of former red zone threat Marc Boerigter. Wilson offers an athletic 6-foot-2 frame to complement Gonzalez in the corners.

    10. Miami Dolphins
    Randy McMichael has become entrenched as the No. 2 receiving option behind Chris Chambers in the Dolphins offense. McMichael snagged 60 balls last year for 582 receiving yards and five touchdowns (touchdowns in four straight games to start the year). He caught three of more passes in 12 of his 15 games played.

    The Dolphins added former Chargers tight end Justin Peelle this off-season. He'll be used primarily as a blocker for Ronnie Brown.

    11. New York Giants
    Despite a nagging ankle injury, Jeremy Shockey improved his receiving totals again in 2005. He improved his reception and touchdown totals marginally, but saw his average reception length improve by almost three full yards. Shockey stands as the second option to Plaxico Burress for third-year quarterback Eli Manning. With the continued development of Manning, Shockey should boost his totals yet again in 2006, perhaps approaching double-digit touchdowns for the first time in his career.

    Visanthe Shiancoe remains the second option to Shockey, but barely rates on the scale. In three seasons, he's totaled 23 receptions for 172 yards with three touchdowns.

    12. Pittsburgh Steelers
    The Steelers used their first-round selection in 2005 on Virginia tight end Heath Miller and the 6-foot-5 rookie immediately became one of Ben Roethlisberger's favorite targets. Miller was second only to Hines Ward in receptions (39) and touchdown catches (six). His role figures to expand as the Steelers open up the offense more in 2006 with the continued growth of Roethlisberger and the return of coordinator Ken Whisenhunt.

    Jerame Tuman remains on the roster as a blocker for Willie Parker and occasional pass receiver in two tight-end sets.

    13. Philadelphia Eagles
    Injuries to quarterback Donovan McNabb, running back Brian Westbrook and that little issue with Terrell Owens thrust L.J. Smith into a top role in the Eagles offense. Smith tied Westbrook for the team lead with 61 receptions last year. He became less of a factor in the offense once McNabb opted for season-ending surgery. Look for him to be among the leaders at the position this year as Philadelphia begins life post-T.O.

    Former Bengals tight end Matt Schobel (18 receptions, 193 receiving yards and one touchdown) will run alongside Smith in two tight-end sets.

    14. Atlanta Falcons
    Alge Crumpler has been Michael Vick's No. 1 target for several seasons, but the off-season work of Vick and his young wide receivers Michael Jenkins and Roddy White figures to cut into the ample looks afforded Crumpler in the past. Additionally, Atlanta will continue its efforts to control the clock with Warrick Dunn and either T.J. Duckett or rookie Jarious Norwood. Crumpler posted career highs in 2005 with 65 receptions and 877 receiving yards.

    Dwayne Blakley and Eric Beverly will be on the roster, but figure to see little action in the way of looks.

    15. Minnesota Vikings

    Jermaine Wiggins led Minnesota in receptions in 2005, but he only managed to make one of them count for six points. (Lisa Blumenfeld / Getty Images)

    Jermaine Wiggins became a huge factor for the Vikings in a rocky 2005 season. Wiggins's 69 receptions led the team by a wide margin over Travis Taylor and his 568 receiving yards finished just 36 shy of Taylor. Unfortunately, Wiggins couldn't find the end zone for all of his receptions, accounting for only one touchdown reception last year. He'll remain a frequent target for Brad Johnson this season, and I suspect that his touchdown total will rise markedly to 6-8.

    The Vikings will also bring back Jim Kleinsasser this year. Kleinsasser caught 22 passes for 171 yards last year. He was a red-zone threat for the Vikings as late as 2003 and would be a serviceable option if Wiggins were to get hurt.

    16. San Francisco *****
    The ***** worked to find help for second-year quarterback Alex Smith this off-season. Trent Dilfer was brought home to mentor the young quarterback. Antonio Bryant offers a tall, athletic receiving option. They drafted a physical marvel in the first round in tight end Vernon Davis. And, former top receiver for the *****, Eric Johnson, returns from a foot injury. Johnson caught 82 passes for 825 yards in 2004. He would have certainly been helpful to Smith in his rookie struggles.

    This receiving duo should allow Smith to improve immensely entering his second season.

    17. New Orleans Saints
    The Saints lost Boo Williams to injury early in the season, and it wasn't until late in the campaign that Aaron Brooks and Todd Bouman discovered the playmaking ability of Zachary Hilton. Hilton caught 30 passes in the final seven weeks of the year and was targeted an average of seven times per game during that stretch. The signing of Drew Brees serves Hilton well, as the short, efficient passing game featuring the tight end is what made Brees a star.

    Veteran Ernie Conwell remains a solid blocker and occasional pass target. He'll be the No. 2 tight end behind Hilton.

    18. Indianapolis Colts
    The departure of Marcus Pollard was expected to boost the stats of Dallas Clark through the roof in 2005. The heavy workload afforded former No. 1 back Edgerrin James and strong wide receiver set certainly contributed to the average totals (37 receptions, 488 receiving yards and four touchdowns) put forth by Clark. He remains a factor, but the number of looks afforded Marvin Harrison and Reggie Wayne will keep his workload down.

    Additionally, Clark has battled injuries the past two seasons, leaving opportunities for teammates Bryan Fletcher and Ben Hartsock. Fletcher caught 18 passes last season for 202 yards and three scores. While Hartsock didn't factor prominently in 2005, he's expected to see more reps in 2006.

    19. Houston Texans
    The Texans obtained Jeb Putzier in free agency to offer another sure-handed receiver for David Carr. Putzier had caught 73 passes in Gary Kubiak's Denver attack over the past two years. He offers an immediate upgrade over leading 2005 tight end option Marcellus Rivers (24 receptions, 168 receiving yards and zero touchdowns). Mark Bruener remains on the roster as a blocker for Domanick Davis.

    The addition of receiver Eric Moulds to complement Andre Johnson will create space in the middle of the field for Putzier to operate. Putzier stands 6-foot-4 and will create mismatches downfield.

    20. Detroit Lions
    Marcus Pollard left Indianapolis for Detroit and finished last season with the most receptions of any Lions receiver with 46. He ranked second on the team behind Roy Williams in receiving yards (516) and touchdowns (three). It will be interesting to see how he will be utilized in Mike Martz's offense. Given the injury histories of the wide receivers on the roster, similar numbers and perhaps a couple extra red zone looks and touchdowns will be in order for Pollard.

    Dan Campbell and Casey FitzSimmons combined to catch 13 balls for 69 yards and one score last year. They will serve as blockers for Kevin Jones in this offense.

    21. Jacksonville Jaguars
    Marcedes Lewis was selected by the Jaguars in the first round to offer Byron Leftwich another playmaker downfield. The 6-foot-6 tight end from UCLA offers tremendous leaping ability and will create match-up problems downfield and become a red-zone threat. The departure of Jimmy Smith means that 10 more pass attempts will be spread around to Jaguars receivers on a weekly basis.

    Veteran Kyle Brady will serve as a mentor to Lewis and another steady receiving option for Leftwich. Brady has caught fewer than 30 passes in three straight seasons with a single touchdown in each of the last three years. George Wrighster was a non-factor much of the year in 2005, finishing with 13 receptions for 120 yards and two touchdowns.

    22. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
    Jon Gruden has long been a fan of the tight end. He found a solid option in the third round of last year's draft in Alex Smith from Stanford. Smith was the second-leading receiver behind Joey Galloway for the Buccaneers last season, finishing with 41 receptions, 367 yards and two touchdowns (both in Week 1). He figured to become a larger component of the offense this year with Chris Simms under center.

    Veteran Anthony Becht had been a factor with the Jets as late as 2003 with 40 receptions and four touchdowns.

    23. Cleveland Browns

    Kellen Winslow, Jr. hasn't seen action since Week 2 of 2004, but he'll lead Cleveland's tight end unit into 2006. (David Maxwell / Getty Images)

    The Browns are banking on their No. 1 pick from 2004 to finally contribute this year. Kellen Winslow, Jr. played in two games as a rookie before breaking his leg. He hasn't seen the field since. From all reports, Winslow, Jr. is in shape and ready to participate in training camp.

    Steve Heiden played well in his absence last year and offered a great safety valve for Trent Dilfer and Charlie Frye. Twenty of Heiden's 43 receptions went for first downs, and he ranked fourth on the team with 401 receiving yards. He will take a backseat if Winslow, Jr. is ready to play, but will also see time in double tight end sets.

    24. St. Louis Rams
    New coach Scott Linehan promises to boost the workload of Steven Jackson this season. He also appears to be ready to pull back some of the high flying deep throws that were such a part of Mike Martz's attack. In the 2006 draft, Linehan and the Rams drafted two playmaking tight ends, Joe Klopfenstein of Colorado and Dominique Byrd of USC. They'll both factor into the red zone offense, but with the talented quartet of Torry Holt, Isaac Bruce, Kevin Curtis and Shaun McDonald still in tow, looks may be scarce early on.

    25. Arizona Cardinals
    The Cardinals added the last piece of the offensive puzzle (on paper, anyway) with the selection of Leonard Pope in April's draft. The rookie out of Georgia stands 6-foot-8, which will cause match-up problems for even the best defensive backs. Once Pope learns the NFL game, he will be a frequent target in the red zone. However, the addition of Edgerrin James to the dynamic duo of Anquan Boldin and Larry Fitzgerald leaves few looks and touches for other players to start the year.

    Eric Edwards and Adam Bergen round out the tight end options for Kurt Warner. Bergen figures to split time with Pope as the Cardinals attempt to accelerate his learning curve. Edwards and Bergen combined for 40 receptions, 403 yards and two scores last season.

    26. New York Jets
    The Jets offense was decimated by injuries and ineffective play at quarterback last year. As a result, the statistics of all wide receivers suffered. Jets tight ends combined for 47 catches for 593 yards and two touchdowns.

    The contribution of Jets tight ends varied greatly throughout the season. Both Doug Jolley and Chris Baker turned in one 100-yard game last season. Those efforts accounted for nearly 40 percent of their total yardage production for the season.

    Stability at the quarterback position in 2006 should help to boost their combined production this season.

    27. Denver Broncos
    The tight end position slipped on the radar in Denver after the departure of Shannon Sharpe. Players at tight end account for roughly 20 percent of all Jake Plummer completions each season. Denver tight ends combined for only two touchdowns in 2005. He relies heavily on first option Rod Smith, and most of the other opportunities will now be tossed in the direction of off-season acquisition Javon Walker.

    The Broncos lost their leading receiver at the position, Jeb Putzier, to departed coordinator Gary Kubiak and the Houston Texans this off-season. Former Pro Bowl player Stephen Alexander (21 receptions, 170 receiving yards, one touchdown) leads a three-player unit which includes two prime red zone targets who each stand six-foot-five. Second-year player Wesley Duke caught two passes for 22 yards and one touchdown. He'll compete for the backup role with 2006 draft selection Tony Scheffler. Scheffler showed great hands and leaping ability with 57 receptions, 670 receiving yards and nine touchdowns for Western Michigan last year.

    28. Oakland Raiders
    The depth at wide receiver and the reliance of LaMont Jordan in the passing game leaves few chances for tight ends in Oakland. Courtney Anderson opened the season with several big efforts, but faded in the second half before missing the final three games of the year. He finished with 24 catches for 303 yards and three touchdowns (two came in Week 1). Anderson returns unopposed for the starting position this season, but again, the group of Randy Moss, Jerry Porter, Doug Gabriel and Ronald Curry will see virtually all of the action from Aaron Brooks.

    Rookie James Adkisson from South Carolina has struggled thus far in mini-camp. The Raiders love his 6-foot-5 frame, but Adkisson has had problems adjusting to coverages early on.

    29. Carolina Panthers
    Jake Delhomme looked primarily to his wide receivers and running backs last season with few glances at his tight ends. That number figures to become more skewed this year with the addition of Keyshawn Johnson to the offense. Johnson averaged nearly 8.5 looks per game last year, and top Carolina receiver Steve Smith averaged 9.75. When you subtract those efforts from Delhomme's average number of attempts, there aren't many looks available for the remaining options.

    Kris Mangum and Michael Gaines combined for 35 receptions, 357 receiving yards and four touchdowns last year. I suspect that they'll combine for similar numbers this season with a slight up-tick for Mangum this year because of the presence of Johnson as a secondary option.

    30. Chicago Bears
    The Chicago offense relied heavily on the running game in 2005 with rookie Kyle Orton under center. The playbook figures to expand this season with Rex Grossman or Brian Griese at quarterback. However, the majority of those looks figure to go to Muhsin Muhammad and the young receiving corps (Bernard Berrian, Mark Bradley and Justin Gage).

    The Bears tight ends combined for 28 catches, 250 receiving yards and three touchdowns. Desmond Clark was the primary option with 24 receptions. He figures to be the top option of the returning trio with John Gilmore and Gabe Reid offering marginal contributions.

    31. Buffalo Bills
    The two returning tight ends for Buffalo in 2006, Robert Royal and Tim Euhus, caught a combined 21 passes for 148 yards and one touchdown. The Buffalo passing game struggled as a whole, but this part of the unit was a non-factor altogether. Royal was a red-zone force in 2004, catching four touchdown passes in his eight receptions. He can be a roll of the dice play in a given week if Kelly Holcomb, J.P. Losman or Craig Nall is able to get the Bills offense in gear. However, don't expect heavy reception totals out of this duo, as the offense will be predicated on the legs of Willis McGahee.

    32. Cincinnati Bengals
    The tight end position in Cincinnati receives very little attention as a result of a heavy workload turned in by Rudi Johnson and a strong complement of wide receivers. The returning tight ends on the roster, Reggie Kelly and Tony Stewart, combined to catch 19 passes for 116 yards and zero touchdowns in 2005. Should Palmer miss any portion of the regular season, they may be counted on slightly more with Anthony Wright under center, but not enough for fantasy consideration.

    The next stop on my off-season tour takes us to the other side of the ball. Next time, we'll begin the breakdown of defensive units.
    RamsFan16

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    Re: Team Postion Rankings

    This is all fantasy-wise. We are 26th in TE's because our WR's will get more points since they are so talented

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