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Volume 6, Issue 88 (Friday, July 15th)

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Tonight's update brought to you by:
The World Championships of Fantasy Football (WCOFF)

There are still a few spots left in this year's WCOFF, so please check out their website (WCOFF.com) if you're interested in competing for the largest grand prize in fantasy football history! More good news about the WCOFF...they now offer WCOFF online Satellite Leagues. For only $200, you can earn a spot in the 2006 WCOFF. That includes air fare and hotel accommodations. You can check out their Satellite Leagues by going to http://www.xpertsports.com/wcoff

Joe's Note: You've heard me talk about the World Championship of Fantasy Football (WCOFF.com) before. I was there last year in Las Vegas and it's an excellent event. One of our Footballguys subscribers has won the $200,000 grand prize in 2002, 2003 and 2004 - and I want to make sure it happens again in 2005.

Web Address: http://www.wcoff.com

Hi Folks,

Thanks to our Chris Smith for rounding up these stories tonight. As I type this update, my 11 year old son and my 9 year old daughter are impatiently looking at the clock as we're headed to the bookstore for the new Harry Potter release at midnight. I've been informed to keep it moving so let's get to it.

Joe Bryant


INSIDE THIS ISSUE

1. MIN - RB Bennett Must Have Good Showing This Season
2. IND - Rookie WR Crosby Not Selected In Supplemental Draft; Signs With The Colts
3. JAX - RB Henry And Jaguars Close To Deal But Taylor Insists He's The Man
4. TEN - Incentive-Laden Deal For Rookie RB Damien Nash
5. CLE - K Dawson Signs New Five-Year Contract
6. IDP: KC - Talks With CB Law Begin To Intensify But Jets And Dolphins Still Interested
7. IDP: DEN - CB Middlebrooks Traded To 49ers For LB Engelberger
8. IDP: NYJ - Talks Resume With DE John Abraham
9. IDP: FA - LB Peter Boulware's Workout Did Nothing To Ease Concerns
10 IDP: CLE - Team Expects Big Things From 3rd Year LB Thompson

1. MIN - RB Bennett Must Have Good Showing This Season

Clipped from: Viking Update

As Bennett enters the final year of his rookie contract, he feels the pressure to succeed. With Onterrio Smith out for the season and unproven players like Mewelde Moore and Ciatrick Fason behind, Bennett has a chance to make a big splash. Then again, it's been the same story the last two years. That was, until injuries sidelined Bennett both seasons.

Head coach Mike Tice has tried to build his offense around the running talents of Bennett, but those plans have had to be scrapped each of the last two seasons. The third needs to be the charm because of depth concerns and Bennett's future.

When Smith had a chance to go out via free agency, because of his injury history, no outside team was willing to dive in with a big contract and he returned to the Vikings. The same may end up happening with Bennett.

With all the changes on the Vikings roster, one of the critical areas in the post-Moss Vikings offense will be to establish a running game so teams can't lock in on Daunte Culpepper. That will fall on Bennett. How he holds up will be key not only to the 2005 season, but to his long-term financial future as well.

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

Without question, Michael Bennett will be given every opportunity to be the man in the Vikings' backfield in 2005. Can he withstand the punishment of an NFL season, avoid injuries and make an impact throughout the season? That is the question that keeps Bennett outside of the top twenty in most rankings this season. If he stays healthy, he will have an excellent opportunity to shine in 2005. Not a bad player to take a chance on with a third round pick.

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2. IND - Rookie WR Crosby Not Selected In Supplemental Draft; Signs With The Colts

Clipped from: AP article 7/15/05

Wide receiver Roscoe Crosby has agreed to a multiyear deal with the Indianapolis Colts, after not being taken in Thursday's supplemental draft. Kevin Parker, his advisor, said Friday that Crosby was expected to report to the Colts' training camp on July 27 at Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology in Terre Haute, Ind.

Parker said several teams called about signing Crosby after the draft, "but Indianapolis proved to be the best situation for Roscoe."

Crosby excelled in football and baseball at Union High School. He was a likely top 10 pick in the 2001 Major League Baseball draft, but was taken by the Kansas City Royals in the second round when Crosby told baseball teams he would continue to pursue big-time football as a receiver at Clemson.

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

Crosby was considered one of the top recruits coming out of high school when he signed with the Clemson Tigers. Unfortunately, for various reasons, he never went on to excel at the collegiate level and actually fell off the map entirely over the past couple of seasons. Still he has great athleticism and he will learn from the bench behind consummate professionals such as Marvin Harrison, Reggie Wayne and Brandan Stokley. He couldn't have stepped into a better situation to learn the craft.

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3. JAX - RB Henry And Jaguars Close To Deal But Taylor Insists He's The Man

Clipped from: Times-Union article by Bart Hubbuch

Acknowledging their concerns about Fred Taylor's availability this season, the Jaguars are close to completing a long-discussed trade for Buffalo Bills running back Travis Henry. Jaguars coach Jack Del Rio said Thursday in a statement released by the team that a deal for Henry, a Pro Bowl selection in 2003, could be completed "in the next few days or week."

"The fact that we have an opportunity to acquire a running back of this kind of talent is something we have to look at so we're looking at it,'' Del Rio said in the statement. "This may or may not happen, but we're protecting our interests, and any time we think we can acquire somebody who can help us, we're going to do that."

The Jaguars are pursuing Henry, who at 26 is nearly three years younger than Taylor, despite what Del Rio described as an encouraging workout by Taylor earlier this week.

Taylor has been sidelined all offseason by surgery in January to repair two ligaments in his left knee that were damaged in the Jaguars' Dec. 19 victory at Green Bay, an injury that caused him to miss the final two games.

"We'll open camp with Fred, but we'll practice him once a day and it'll be in shorts," Del Rio said in the statement. "We'll monitor him during that first week. We want to see his strength continue to improve."

Taylor shrugged off questions about his status in an interview last week.

"I'm going to be fine," he said. "You just wait and see. I'm going to be just fine."

The Jaguars have discussed a trade for Henry for much of the offseason, showing interest in him along with Tennessee and Seattle. The stumbling blocks to a deal have been compensation to the Bills and the necessity of signing Henry to a contract extension.

The Bills are holding out for at least a third-round draft pick, and Henry can become a free agent next winter without an extension because he is in the final year of his contract at a cost of $1.25 million. Neither the Bills nor the Jaguars would comment Thursday on possible compensation for Henry, although a Buffalo radio station reported it could be a third-round pick that improves to a second-round choice if Henry reaches certain statistical benchmarks.

Tennessee and Seattle are still in contention, but Henry's agent said Thursday that he is further along with the Jaguars on an extension than with any other team.

Taylor said last week that he would welcome Henry's arrival as long as Henry realizes the Jaguars "are my team.''

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

This signing probably makes sense for the Jaguars although it will be a very crowded, potentially volatile situation if Fred Taylor is healthy and Travis Henry is forced to back him up. In terms of fantasy football, this makes it very difficult in early drafts to pick the starter for the Jaguars. Will it be Taylor, Henry or a combination of the two? Nobody knows at this point but watching the situation through the preseason will probably answer a lot of the questions we are going to have. One thing is certain, the Jaguars will have a solid running game with those two in combination with a very strong offensive line and a more aggressive approach on offense to keep defenses honest.

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4. TEN - Incentive-Laden Deal For Rookie RB Damien Nash

Clipped from: Tennessean.com article by Paul Kuharsky

The Titans and fifth-round draft pick Damien Nash, formerly of Missouri University have agreed to terms on a contract, General Manager Floyd Reese confirmed yesterday. He is one of several backs competing to win the backup job behind Chris Brown. But the team still could choose to find a veteran backup through a trade or the waiver wire. Nash's agent, David Canter, said the deal is laced with incentives that could make it the largest deal in NFL history for a fifth-round pick. The incentives start at 640 yards and work up to 1,300 to 1,400, he said.

"If Damien goes out and has 1,000 yards rushing, 12 touchdowns, 34 or 40 catches he can earn $600,000 to $800,000 in extra money," Canter said. "Once he puts the pads on, when push comes to shove, he'll separate himself from the rest of the pack. The signing bonus is between $125,000 and $140,000"

Nash is slated for minimum base salaries of $230,000 this season, $310,000 in 2006 and $385,000 in 2007.

The Titans need to release players in order to make roster room so players that have agreed to terms can be officially signed. Reese said there could be cuts today as the team finalizes its deal with fifth-rounder Daniel Loper, an offensive tackle.

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

Incumbent Chris Brown will get the bulk of the work at the running back position in 2005 if he can stay healthy and on the field. However after last season, he's shown he's far from durable. This could open the door for a player like Damien Nash to shine. This is a great contract for the Titans as he will have little effect on the salary cap. But it could potentially be a great deal for Nash as well if he can emerge as the backup to Brown. At this point he will be in a dogfight with revitalized running back Jarrett Payton who shined in NFL Europe this season but the team may also bring in another veteran player to compete with both of them. Nash is certainly a player to keep an eye on throughout the preseason.

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5. CLE - K Dawson Signs New Five-Year Contract

Clipped from: AP article

Kicker Phil Dawson, one of only two members of the 1999 expansion Browns roster still with the team, signed a five-year contract extension with Cleveland, the team announced Friday. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Dawson was headed into the last year of a four-year deal signed in 2002. Defensive back Daylon McCutcheon is the other Browns player still on the team from when the team was revived in Cleveland.

Dawson is the franchise leader in field goal percentage (82 percent), making 108 of 132 attempts in his six-year career and has had six game-winning kicks in his six years with the Browns. Last season, he matched a career-high 100 points, connecting on 24 of 29 field goal attempts and making all 28 extra points.

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

Good move by the Browns to sign the talented Dawson to a long-term deal. He has been one of the only bright spots over the years on a team that was anything but successful. He is a very reliable kicker who could be a great fantasy player if the Browns can find an offensive attack that isn't offensive.

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6. IDP: KC - Talks With CB Law Begin To Intensify But Jets And Dolphins Still Interested

Clipped from: Warpaint Illustrated article by Nick Athan

In what has become the worst kept secret in the NFL, the Kansas City Chiefs continue to pursue free agent cornerback Ty Law. Warpaint Illustrated has learned that those talks have become very serious over the last 48 hours. It appears from all accounts that Kansas City is putting on the full court press and the team hopes to work out a contract for the veteran cornerback over the next couple of weeks provided Law can pass a team physical.

Though money is at the heart of the talks, Law must show the Chiefs that he's healthy enough to practice and eventually play at a level that will warrant a significant pay check. We've learned that the Chiefs will bring him in for a workout in short order once he's received clearance from his doctors that he can go through a rigorous workout and prove to team officials that his surgically repaired foot can withstand the physical requirements to be ready to start the season on September 11th against the New York Jets.

The Chiefs are in this position because of the four game suspension to cornerback Eric Warfield. Law if he's healthy would start opposite Patrick Surtain, who was obtained in a pre-drafty day trade with the Miami Dolphins last April.

Law is considering a plethora of teams that include the Jacksonville Jaguars, New York Jets, Indianapolis Colts, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Miami Dolphins and of course the Kansas City Chiefs. It was reported by John Clayton of ESPN that Law has a $6 million contract offer from an AFC East team we first thought it might be his former team the New England Patriots but we've learned that's not the case. Our source within the Patriots told us that they have too much "dead money" this season and signing Law to that figure would completely impair the teams ability to sign their rookies. Even further when we asked this source about Ty Law, they quipped, "Is he (Law) a Chiefs yet?" In fact the team that Clayton was referencing was in fact not the Patriots but the New York Jets who appear to be jumping in the talks now that Kansas City is pushing to get a deal done.

With the news today that 10-year veteran cornerback Donnie Abraham will retire, the Jets quickly made a trade with the Dallas Cowboys for cornerback Peter Hunter. He's not Ty Law but it's another body to throw into the mix for the Jets who need secondary help.

Again a lot of this is posturing by the Poston Brothers as they attempt to get Law the best deal possible this late in the game. Law has made contract demands ranging from a one year $6 million offer to a five year $42 million offer. There is no way the Chiefs or anyone else is going to pay that kind of money to Law even if he was 100% healthy. The fact remains that he isn't and teams must adjust their contract offers based on his ability to be ready to start the season. That fact alone will keep the Chiefs and Jets in the mix until Law can show everyone that he's back to his All-Pro self.

However as of this afternoon responding to reports that a deal is close, Ty Law spoke with Sports Radio 810 in Kansas City and said that talks are not close. He expects to be signed in the next three to four days by someone and he claimed that he would indeed be ready for the season opener.

It's curious as to why Law would go on a local station and say that KC is down the list and that they have no money when in fact they've offered him a better base salary than any other bidder to date. In fact Law spoke with radio stations in New York, Miami and Indianapolis as well as Kansas City today.

With that said, it looks as if Ty Law and his agents are still looking for the green pastures of gold that could lead them to another team that does not have a serious chance for a Super Bowl run.

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

This situation is a very intriguing one with an injured cornerback who was once considered one of the finer defensive backs in the game looking for one last huge payday with no teams willing to shell out the big bucks for a player with a giant '?' on his back. Even 100% healthy, Law may not be worth the large dollars he is searching for but with quite a few teams desperate for defensive back help (especially the Jets, Dolphins and Chiefs); he will likely get a respectable deal if he is proven healthy. He certainly has the skills to make a defense stronger this season and could help drive a team like the Jets and Chiefs to the brink of the Super Bowl.

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7. IDP: DEN - CB Middlebrooks Traded To 49ers For LB Engelberger

Clipped from: AP article

The San Francisco 49ers acquired cornerback Willie Middlebrooks from the Denver Broncos on Friday in a trade for defensive end John Engelberger. The deal swaps two young defensive players who had fallen out of favor on their original teams.

Engelberger, a second-round draft pick in 2000, led the 49ers with six sacks last season, but is thought to be too small to play defensive end in San Francisco's new 3-4 defensive scheme under new coach Mike Nolan. Free agent Marques Douglas was signed in April to take Engelberger's starting job.

Middlebrooks, the Broncos' first-round selection in 2001, was a disappointment in Denver, never earning a regular starting job in four seasons. He will join Ahmed Plummer and Shawntae Spencer in the 49ers' improved defensive secondary.

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

This is a trade that could help both defenses get better. Willie Middlebrooks was a first round pick that never played well enough to earn a starting job with the Broncos and he was expendable. On the flip side, Engelberger has had some success at the pro level but didn't fit into the 49ers new 3-4 scheme being implemented on defense. It appears that the Broncos got the best of this deal but perhaps Middlebrooks can find a way to turn his potential into production within a new organization.

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8. IDP: NYJ - Talks Resume With DE John Abraham

Clipped from: NJ Star Ledger article by Dave Hutchinson

Contract talks between the Jets and DE John Abraham can officially resume today as the blackout for negotiations between franchise players and their teams is lifted. The club has placed the franchise tag on Abraham ($6.67 million) but he wants a long-term deal and didn't take part in the team's off-season condition program.

Abraham, who spent the off-season working with a personal trainer, may not report to training camp on time. The Jets are balking at giving Abraham a long-term deal because of his injury history. Last season, he missed the final four games of the regular season and two playoff games after suffering a torn lateral collateral ligament in his left knee.

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

When healthy nobody denies that Abraham is a difference maker on the field. The question will be how much faith the team has in him staying healthy through this season and beyond. He is our 7th ranked player at the defensive line position for the 2005 season and we expect him to play this season whether he gets that new long-term deal or not.

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9. IDP: FA - LB Peter Boulware's Workout Did Nothing To Ease Concerns

Clipped from: Cleveland Plain-Dealer article by Tony Grossi

Free-agent linebacker Peter Boulware did not impress the Browns enough in his workout Thursday to warrant an immediate contract offer.

"We're still interested and will evaluate it next week with the coaches, but there's nothing imminent," General Manager Phil Savage said through a team spokesman.

Boulware's workout was attended by the Browns, Seattle, Houston and Pittsburgh. Savage, the highest-ranking club executive in attendance, was joined by Browns linebacker coach Mike Haluchak. Boulware was released by the Baltimore Ravens after reportedly turning down a $2 million contract offer. He missed the past 18 games with knee and toe injuries.

Before the workout, the Browns had concerns that Boulware could only be effective as a part-time rush specialist at this stage of his career. The workout apparently did not ease those concerns.

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

It doesn't appear that Boulware has made it back from injury yet to the point where a team is willing to sign him to a multi-million dollar deal. That may change over the next little while but for now, don't waste a fantasy pick on his potential as he may be stuck in limbo and only be a part-time player even if he is signed. He is currently unranked in our Expert Rankings.

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10. IDP: CLE - Team Expects Big Things From 3rd Year LB Thompson

Clipped from: Cleveland Plain-Dealer article by Roger Brown

Team insiders are quietly predicting this is the season third-year linebacker Chaun Thompson establishes himself as an above-average NFL linebacker. Thompson is certainly focused: While he and other Browns are squeezing in their final vacation time before training camp, he's still going through punishing workouts each day.

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

Just a quick little blurb here but it is important for those owners in IDP leagues this season. Chaun Thompson has a lot of talent and may indeed be ready to make the climb into the solid starter rank in fantasy football. Somebody is going to emerge as a fantasy force within the linebacker corps of the Browns and Thompson likely has the best opportunity to shine.

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

J

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