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Volume 6, Issue 70 (Monday, June 27th)

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Tonight's update brought to you by EA SPORTS

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Hi Folks,

Hope you're having a better week than (former) Dolphins safety Quintin Williams (see story #2) We're rolling this week. It's a big day for us as our FBG Strategy Guide magazine officially hits the newsstands Tuesday. If you see it on the shelf, tell anyone close by that the FBG mag is YOUR magazine. You're one of us and I can say without reservation that the magazine wouldn't be on the shelves if it weren't for people like you making this thing happen. So thanks. Thanks as well to our Mark Wimer for rounding up these stories tonight. Let's get to it.

J


SITE NEWS

A. Individual Defensive Players (IDP) Projections
One of the areas we continue to expand is our IDP coverage. You'll find the detailed projections you need, not just simple cheatsheets.

B. The Water Cooler by Chris Smith
Includes a special "Dynasty Alert" for you guys predrafting for the 2026 season…


INSIDE THIS ISSUE

1. OAK: WR Moss is Motivated, Happy
2. MIA: Coach Saban Sends Message with Cut (Commentary)
3. CIN: Depth at WR Means Tough Decisions for Bengals
4. TB: RB Williams is Expected "Not to Make Mistakes"
5. KC: TE Kris Wilson Back at Full Strength
6. TB: WR Larry Brackins the Next Joe Horn?
7. TEN: WR Calico Analysis (Commentary)
8. STL: RB Faulk Will Define Own Role During 2005
9. IDP TEN: DE Vanden Bosch to Lead Teams' DL
10. IDP FA DB Ty Law Lingers on Market (Commentary)

1. OAK: WR Moss is Motivated, Happy

Clipped from: San Francisco Chronicle article by Nancy Gay, 6/26/05

With the last of 14 organized team activity days now behind him, Raiders coach Norv Turner feels pretty comfortable drawing a few conclusions about his revamped team.

Wide receiver Randy Moss, the team's marquee free-agent acquisition, appeared as happy and motivated as any of the rookies, the coach has discovered. The near-perfect attendance record for players throughout the voluntary workouts and the enthusiasm he saw in practices proved to him there is definite commitment to turn around a 5-11 finish in 2004.

[ [ [ [ [ [ [ [ [ [ OUR VIEW ] ] ] ] ] ] ] ] ] ]

The article goes on to note that the teams' defense also looks like an improved bunch. If the defense can play at merely mediocre levels during 2005, the offensive fire-power of Moss, Kerry Collins, Jerry Porter and Lamont Jordan should make this team a contender in the AFC West - and the offense looks like a potential fantasy powerhouse loaded with talent.

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2. MIA: Coach Saban Sends Message with Cut (Commentary)

Clipped from: Miami Herald editorial by David J. Neal, 6/27/05

Radar guns allegedly caught then-Dolphins safety Quintin Williams going 111 mph Thursday. The guns would've blown up measuring the speed of the message Dolphins coach Nick Saban sent Friday.

Behave, or be gone.

Or, at least, be worried.

If you're most players.

Whether that's what Saban meant when he made Williams one of three cuts Friday is irrelevant. His preemptive disclaimer from Thursday -- ''Don't evaluate this situation based on who and how we punish people, because that would not be the right thing to do.'' -- might as well have been whispered into the wind after Friday.

In Dolphins offseason homes around South Florida and vacation spots around the world, you can bet Williams' release raised eyebrows accompanied by wordy analyses such as ``Dang.''

Smart players will assume the locker room bourgeoisie needs to follow the real world's rules just as if they were part of real world's bourgeoisie. Anybody below the established Dolphin royalty needs to keep his mug shot confined to the team program.

If the police report is accurate about the 111 mph, Williams' blood-alcohol level and racing another car, it still doesn't make Williams a bad person. Like too many of us too often, he committed a perilous act that endangered himself and others. Like not enough of us, he got caught.

So, for that moment, Williams was dumb and unlucky. Just as dumb as the person who does it and doesn't get busted. Not as unlucky as the person who does it and winds up getting busted because he or she maimed or killed someone or three.

Unlucky enough to be a perfect sacrificial lamb.

[ [ [ [ [ [ [ [ [ [ OUR VIEW ] ] ] ] ] ] ] ] ] ]

Considering Ricky Williams' avowed drug use while a Dolphin during the former coaching regime, it looks like coach Saban means to set a tone and enforce some discipline amongst the Dolphins. That can only be a good thing for this struggling club.

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3. CIN: Depth at WR Means Tough Decisions for Bengals

Clipped from: Dayton Daily News article by Carlos Holmes, 6/27/05

For the first time in years, the Cincinnati Bengals head into training camp loaded with quality depth at the wide receiver position. A good thing, yes! However, it will be no easy task when it comes time to reduce their roster. This means some talented receivers could eventually hit the open market courtesy of the Bengals.

Chad Johnson and T.J. Houshmandzadeh are the only two receivers guaranteed a spot, leaving veterans like Peter Warrick and Kelley Washington to fight for a place on the roster during training camp.

Although a number of receivers will be vying for a position, the one guy that may already have a leg up on the rest is Kevin Walter. The 6-foot-3, 218-pound receiver made it extremely difficult to be ignored with his performance during the team's recent minicamp.

Walter showed that he is steadily improving by being consistent and making plays. He was strong off the line, quick, ran good routes and demonstrated outstanding blocking skills. He also showed that he can stretch the field when he blew past CB Tory James and made a nice one-handed grab along the sideline before being pushed out of bounds. The sure-handed receiver was even more impressive during red zone drills when he put a move on CB Deltha O'Neal that left him caught like a deer in headlights, freeing Walter up to catch a touchdown pass in the back corner of the end zone.

To improve his game, Walter said over the off-season he worked on his flexibility and watched lots of film as well as studying teammate Chad Johnson in an effort to try and pick up some of his techniques to become a more well-rounded receiver.

Selected by the New York Giants in the seventh round of the 2003 draft, Walter was released by the team out of training camp and claimed off waivers by the Bengals. There are several NFL scouts who feel that the Giants may have given up too quickly on Walter, much like the organization did with Ed McCaffrey and Joe Jurevicius, who both went on to receive Super Bowl rings with other clubs.

The Bengals have been patiently waiting for Walter to develop, mainly because they love his upside. Some see him evolving into a possession-type receiver and a go-to-guy in clutch situations. Keep in mind that this kid was regarded as the premier receiver in the Mid-American Conference in 2002, so he's no slouch.

[ [ [ [ [ [ [ [ [ [ OUR VIEW ] ] ] ] ] ] ] ] ] ]

From the coaching staff's point of view, this is an ideal situation. However, for fantasy owners, it means that in very early drafts, selecting anyone other than Johnson or Houshmandzadeh will fall under the heading "deep sleepers". Keep an eye on how the backup situation shakes out, as the Bengals figure to have a pretty potent offense this season - if Walter or Warrick ends up #3, they'll be only one injury away from scoring serious fantasy points.

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4. TB: RB Williams is Expected "Not to Make Mistakes"

Clipped from: Bradenton Herald article by Jim Brockman, 6/27/05

"I've been criticized for liking older players, but that's hogwash," Gruden said on draft day in April.

"Gruden knows if the Bucs are going to improve on last year's dismal 5-11 record, rookies like Auburn running back Carnell Williams (selected fifth overall) and Nebraska linebacker Barrett Ruud (36th) are going to have to produce now.

""We expect these guys not to make mistakes," Gruden said after a minicamp practice last week. "We expect these guys to begin to assert themselves. Carnell Williams and Barrett Ruud don't come from candy-bar programs. They understand what to do."

"And if they don't understand, Gruden is determined to show them and the other 10 draft picks what they need to do. The Bucs also need help from late-round picks such as N.C. State tackle Chris Colmer (91st) and Wisconsin guard Dan Buenning (107th) for their continually inept offensive line.

""A lot of young guys are going to have to play," Bucs nine-year veteran cornerback Ronde Barber said. "That's something we haven't really had to deal with in the past. It's just the nature of this deal.

""We've had a lot of turnover this year, and the young cats are going to have to step in and play. We're going to need some first- and second-year guys to step up, especially on special teams. It's time. If we're going to be a good team, they're going to have to play well."

[ [ [ [ [ [ [ [ [ [ OUR VIEW ] ] ] ] ] ] ] ] ] ]

Youth at RB, youth at various points along the OL - the Buccaneer's running game has a lot of challenges in front of them. A developing thread on our Footballguys.com message board discussing this very topic can be found by clicking this link

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5. KC: TE Kris Wilson Back at Full Strength

Clipped from: http://www.kansascity.com/mld/kansascity/sports/11993430.htm

Kris Wilson hesitated. Maybe he was going too fast. For two months last summer, Wilson was the buzz, the hype, the legend of River Falls, Wis. He caught just about everything thrown his way. He caught the eye of the Chiefs' coaches. And here was the best thing - Wilson was only a rookie.

"You couldn't help but notice him at training camp," Chiefs offensive coordinator Al Saunders said. "You would come off the field saying, 'Wow, he's " an impressive player.'

Now Wilson comes off the field, and he's glad he's not limping. Wilson, a tight end from Pittsburgh, had never missed a game, high school or college, when his leg was twisted under a couple of defenders in the preseason finale at Dallas.

Wilson was out, and so was his feeling of invincibility. He stayed on the 53-man roster and worked for an early-December return from a broken left fibula. He reinjured the leg in practice and missed two more games.

When the Chiefs' coaches watched Wilson at the start of offseason workouts, they noticed he seemed cautious. Who could blame him? But any doubts about Wilson's rehab were quickly erased by minicamp, when he made catch after catch down the middle and drew raves from quarterback Trent Green.

"I don't know if he still has lingering effects of the leg or the confidence of moving around," Green said. "It seems like every week and every practice he gets more and more confidence.

"I think he has gotten a lot better this offseason."

That's saying a lot. Outside of quarterback, the tight-end spot is the most difficult to learn in the Chiefs' offense, Saunders said. But Wilson picked up the playbook quickly and took advantage of Tony Gonzalez's absence to become the biggest surprise of the 2004 training camp.

Wilson was going to be used at fullback, H-back, receiver and on special teams. The Chiefs were going to baffle defensive coordinators with double- and triple-tight-end sets. Saunders called Wilson a "new wrinkle" to the offense because he was so versatile.

Wilson, who's listed at 6 feet 2 and 251 pounds, is confident he'll be all of that in 2005. And he'll be much smarter. A former Big East all-academic member, Wilson isn't worried about the volume of the playbook anymore. He's just reacting and playing.

[ [ [ [ [ [ [ [ [ [ OUR VIEW ] ] ] ] ] ] ] ] ] ]

Tony Gonzalez is a great player in a great offense - but he's not going to be able to play forever. Kris Wilson looks like the heir apparent in Kansas City, and given 1). the past success of Indianapolis with two receiving TEs (although Marcus Pollard is gone now) and 2). the lack of quality wide receivers behind Eddie Kennison, Wilson may begin producing some decent numbers this season. And that could likely affect Gonzalez. Keep an eye on how the Chiefs utilize their 2nd-year TE during training camp and pre-season. If Wilson is shining, it probably means Gonzalez won't be the exclusive focus at TE.

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6. TB: WR Larry Brackins the Next Joe Horn?

Clipped from: Orlando Sentinel article by Chris Harry, 6/26/05

Now a four-time Pro Bowl receiver with the New Orleans Saints, Horn is among the best -- and brashest -- receivers in the league. But the voice of the guy who once celebrated a touchdown by pulling out a cell phone in the end zone had a measure of humility when speaking earlier this month of his unlikely trek from junior college to the NFL.

"You do me a favor and tell that guy to call me," Horn said. "Give him my number. I want to talk to him."

No doubt, there are oodles of wisdom Horn could impart on "that guy," Tampa Bay rookie wide receiver Larry Brackins.

Brackins already has started down the road less traveled, and he did some homework before embarking on his journey.

"I wondered if I could do this," said Brackins, a fifth-round pick from Pearl River Community College in Poplarville, Miss. "Then I heard the Joe Horn story."

In the past 20 years, NFL teams have drafted nine players directly from junior college. That's nine out of 5,553, or one of every 617.

Chance to overcome odds.

Long odds, yes, but Brackins just might have the goods to become a Giacomo-like long shot when the Buccaneers report for training camp July 29 at Disney's Wide World of Sports.

"He's a freak," Tampa Bay Coach Jon Gruden said. "If we can train this wild horse, we may have a stallion here."

Though slowed by a nagging hamstring during last week's minicamp at One Buc Place, Brackins remained one of the most intriguing newcomers on a roster infused by youth this offseason.

After going 5-11 last season, Gruden and General Manager Bruce Allen shifted into makeover mold. Armed with a league-high 12 picks (the most for the franchise since the NFL reduced the draft to seven rounds in 1994), the Bucs used eight of the selections on offensive players, including three receivers. Brackins was the 20th receiver and 155th overall player taken.

"I thought I was as good as any of them," he said.

[ [ [ [ [ [ [ [ [ [ OUR VIEW ] ] ] ] ] ] ] ] ] ]

This is the time of year to build a list of "deep sleepers" that you like to perform well in the NFL - especially if you play in a dynasty league. Brackins sounds like a guy you might want to consider - if you play in a dynasty league and have a need at WR on your rookie bench.

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7. TEN: WR Calico Analysis (Commentary)

Clipped from: FoxSports/The Sporting News article by Jim Wyatt, 6/27/05

WR Tyrone Calico has made great strides in recovering from knee surgery and the team is optimistic he'll be ready for the start of the season. Calico has a chance to make a big impact in Tennessee's offense this fall. Calico missed virtually the entire 2004 season and he was inconsistent as a rookie in '03. At 6-4, 222 pounds he has all the physical tools. He is strong, can break tackles and he's fast. Calico needs to be more consistent catching the football in game, however, and he'll need to improve his technique after missing so much time. He also needs to improve getting off the press, but coaches think that will come in time.

[ [ [ [ [ [ [ [ [ [ OUR VIEW ] ] ] ] ] ] ] ] ] ]

Jim Wyatt is the beat writer for the Tennessean - he obviously speaks with some authority on what role a Titans' player may see during 2005. However, Calico is returning from an ACL injury this year (which can sometimes take up to two years to fully heal) - he's a risky pick, and not someone you should roster for a starting 1-3 slot on the typical fantasy football team. If he comes out of the gates strong, though, you may find some significant value in him as a #5 or #6 WR selection.

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8. STL: RB Faulk Will Define Own Role During 2005

Clipped from: ProFootballWeekly.com article by Jeff Reynolds, 6/27/05

(Head coach Mike) Martz didn't tell Jackson he had become the starter. He chose to let Jackson find out with the rest of the world and now says Jackson was shocked by it. There's also a feeling among some Rams coaches that Jackson believes Martz doesn't like him. Players who have seen Martz light blazing fires within some of the most softly stimulated athletes - the self-motivation-challenged - say it's Martz's way of telling Jackson he still has a lot to earn and even more to learn. Being announced in pregame introductions with the first-team offense isn't necessarily reflected on the stats sheet. To a degree, it's a selflessness test to see how Jackson responds. Faulk, maybe a first-ballot Hall of Famer, is holding the door, without being asked, to the entrance to the NFL's red carpet.

"The one thing you try to observe with a first-round pick is their nature," Martz said. "Steven Jackson, because of his success in college, you expect him to come in with an entourage. When he steps on the practice field, every camera, every microphone followed him. You don't know them well enough yet, so you have to make them understand that when they take the field, he's no different than anybody else on the field. I think he realizes that now. He's not carrying the world on his shoulders."

Martz has some concern that Jackson doesn't yet fully grasp the opportunity being set in front of him. Not the starting nod, but the right to walk with Faulk shadowing him. For Martz, it's a chance to get back to the base approach of the offense - as he puts it, to "white-knuckle people and push them off the line," helping to protect and amplify the passing offense. By no means will Faulk disappear unless his creaky knees force him aside.

"I see a teamwork deal between the two of them," Martz said. "They'll be in at the same time, work as a team. Marshall's role will be more of a receiver. We'll have them in the same backfield. We can split either of them out - both can catch the ball. Marshall's role will be as he defines it, basically. If he wants to play 80 percent, basically that is what he'll do."

[ [ [ [ [ [ [ [ [ [ OUR VIEW ] ] ] ] ] ] ] ] ] ]

Steven Jackson is the trendy RB of the moment among many folks. He's an incredible talent but he doesn't come without some serious question about playing time. What Mike Martz says is by no means the gospel, but the Rams' situation sounds more and more like a RBBC as the off-season workouts progress. However, Faulk's knees did not hold up well last year, and often required drainage due to "loose bodies" (chips of bone and small chunks of torn cartilage floating in the knee) - Jackson has a lot less mileage on his body. How much of Martz's statements are meant to motivate Jackson and how much he means the "80%" comment above remains to be seen - but if Jackson doesn't perform well in his chances early in the pre-season, expect him to plummet down RB boards. Stay tuned to this developing situation if you are invested (or considering investing) in either Faulk or Jackson.

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9. IDP TEN: DE Vanden Bosch to Lead Teams' DL

Clipped from: Tennessean article by Jessica Hopp, 6/27/05

Vanden Bosch was signed to a one-year deal in April to do just what Schwartz suggests - bring drive to a young defensive line that before the addition of Vanden Bosch topped out in age and experience with fourth-year tackle Albert Haynesworth, who turned 24 last week.

Vanden Bosch was brought in to be a leader, but at just 26 years old, he doesn't have much more experience than those he is being asked to lead.

The 2001 second-round pick out of Nebraska spent four years with the Arizona Cardinals, but two ACL surgeries left him watching from the sideline almost as often as he was on the field. So far in his NFL career, Vanden Bosch has played in 35 regular season games and missed 29 due to injury.

He was out most of his rookie year after tearing his right ACL in practice when teammate Barron Tanner rolled into his knee three games into the season.

He returned to start all 16 games in 2002, leading Arizona with four sacks, but in a 2003 preseason game at San Diego he tore his left ACL when he was hit by an offensive tackle while rushing the passer.

Titans linebackers coach Dave McGinnis was there through it all. Formerly head coach of the Cardinals, McGinnis drafted Vanden Bosch and coached him for three years.

He said watching Vanden Bosch go through rehabilitation was difficult, but it only reassured McGinnis that the drive Vanden Bosch displayed in practice and on the field wasn't just an act.

"You have to have a very, very strong constitution to go through those rehabilitations because they are very disciplined rehabs," McGinnis said. "I have never seen a guy block everything else out, the extreme disappointment, the extreme downer that he felt when he got hurt. He bounced back from it, never complained and rehabbed to the point that it was impressive to watch him.

"You felt for him because it was so hard and so tough, but you could see that inner resolve. There was nothing fake about what he was doing. If all that effort and all that enthusiasm were just for show, sooner or later it would have broken down after (his second injury). It never did."

Vanden Bosch admitted, however, that he wasn't the same physically after his second knee surgery. He lacked the speed burst he once had. Although he played in all 16 games in 2004, he started in just one. He recorded 15 tackles, down from 66 in 2002.

"I wasn't near the player I used to be," he said.

It caused many teams to shy away when Vanden Bosch became an unrestricted free agent at the end of the season.

"I was kind of labeled as injury prone," he said. "There are a lot of labels in this league, but to me it is an unfair label because I think I have been unfortunate. I have played through injuries. I have played through pain. I will go out there as long as I can play, I will give you all I got."

[ [ [ [ [ [ [ [ [ [ OUR VIEW ] ] ] ] ] ] ] ] ] ]

Nobody thinks that the Titans will have a decent defense overall this year - but that should mean a lot of game-time for the Titan's starters. In IDP terms, that means that Vanden Bosch could put up decent fantasy statistics, just because of how many opportunities he'll have to make plays while other teams drive up and down the field on the Titans' squad. IF he can stay healthy and get back some of the burst he lacked last year. Obviously, the Tennessee DL is experiencing considerable uncertainty heading into 2005.

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10. IDP FA DB Ty Law Lingers on Market (Commentary)

Clipped from: SI.com editorial by Peter King, 6/27/05

Where's Ty Law going to play this year?

"I'm going to be the best cornerback in football this year,'' Law told me the other night, from his home in Aliquippa, Pa., after returning from a workout with the Jaguars. "I'm just not sure where that's going to be yet.''

The next three weeks are going to be absolutely dead in footballville. Bill Belichick will be on his beloved Nantucket. Brian Billick disappears to the wilds of Minnesota. Bill Parcells goes to the barns at Saratoga Race Course at dawn. Fred-Ex Mitchell's going to Brazil. And so on. Coaches will start filtering back to work between July 18 and July 25. (This column will take the next three weeks off too, and reappear July 25, the day I leave on my 17-day training-camp odyssey.) Until then, not much will happen in the NFL. Except some teams will flirt with Ty Law.

"I'm still the best out there until someone proves he's better,'' he said.

Well, that's debatable. Highly debatable. Last time we saw Law, he was limping off the field in Pittsburgh on Halloween afternoon with a serious foot injury. He had suffered a fracture in his left foot, which healed by late in the season, but also had a Lisfranc ligament sprain, which didn't heal and which Law claims was not diagnosed by the Patriots medical staff. It wasn't until he went to see Dr. Mark Myerson, one of the country's foremost foot and ankle specialists (he operated on Terrell Owens after T.O.'s ankle injury last season), that Law learned he had the ligament sprain. "If it had been diagnosed on time,'' Law told me, "I'd have been ready for someone's minicamp. But now I'm about 85 percent and I know I'll be fine for training camp.''

[ [ [ [ [ [ [ [ [ [ OUR VIEW ] ] ] ] ] ] ] ] ] ]

Mr. King is one of the most connected writers in the league so you'd do well to pay attention here. Those of you holding Law on your bench might want to note his "85%" statement. If nothing else, it indicates just how serious his foot injuries were - it'd be good to have a backup plan at DB/CB on your IDP squad if Law is one of your players.

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That'll do it for today, Folks. Have a great Tuesday and we'll see you tomorrow with the update.

J

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