StrategyMay 3, 2004


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Upgrading Your IDP Roster III
Evaluating the Offense

By Greg Yelderman

The single most important thing you can do for your team in the off-season is evaluate it. You can’t plan who to cut or draft without a thorough assessment of your roster. Now is the time that decisions are made which will determine how you’ll approach trading, the draft, and what needs you have to fill through waivers later on down the road.

Right now is also the time for you to consider trading top performers such as Marvin Harrison, Ray Lewis, Shannon Sharpe, Trent Green. While all of these guys are great players, trading them away after the deepest offensive NFL draft I’ve ever seen seems like a no-brainer. Face it, you can’t build a team for the future with old men from the past, but you can build it on them. Move them while their value is high and get all the picks you can in this draft, early picks in particular. Besides, there really aren’t that many players who last much past 31 in the NFL, anyhow.

I’m not saying, “go grab all the rookies you can with all the picks you get.” I will suggest, however, that you use at least your first two draft picks on rookies. After that, try to stick with the second- to fourth-year players for the most part. You’d be surprised what a receiver like Reggie Wayne, Deion Branch, Ashley Lelie, or Josh Reed can do for your team’s future.

With these things in mind, let’s take a good look at our project team and some player outlooks. By the way, make sure you take a look at the trade which is posted at the end of the offensive profile.
 

Longview Lobos

Quarterbacks

Drew Bledsoe – Buf: With the drafting of JP Losman, Bledsoe’s days are numbered. I’d say you can get by just using him as a number two this season, but that’s about it. He’ll have little trade value at this point in time. May as well keep him till he retires. Buffalo still needs to do something with the offensive line that cost Bledsoe 49 sacks and Travis Henry some broken ribs. Go ahead, ask those two how well protected they felt last season.

Tom Brady – NE: Brady has proven himself with two rings while overcoming injuries to his WR corps last season, and he will only grow better with more experience. The additions of Corey Dillon and Ben Watson coupled with the emergence of Deion Branch gives Brady all the weapons he needs. We might want to play it safe, though, and pick-up Rohan Davies at the tail end of the draft for insurance in case of injury.

We’re okay for a couple of years as long as Brady doesn’t suffer a major injury. Still, we’ll need to score another quarterback somewhere along the way, preferably another fairly young starter if available.

Position Grade: C+

Affordable Candidates: One of the top six rookies, Tim Rattay, Rex Grossman, Kyle Boller, and Josh McCown.

Running Backs

Jerome Bettis – Pit: Duce Staley’s arrival in Pittsburgh will make it hard for Bettis to have value, even as a third option. Using him for anything other than an emergency selection on a bye week is pretty much going to be pointless.

Olandis Gary – Det: Not much value with the draft-day addition of Kevin Jones in Detroit.

Garrison Hearst – Den: RBBC in Denver! While Hearst’s comeback story is inspirational, he’s not a back to count on as a starter. That “anyone can run the ball in Denver” theory is nice, but not something to build on. I’d say he and Bettis are in the same boat as far as fantasy value is concerned.

Priest Holmes – KC: Holmes is great, but he’s getting old, too. We have to think about the future, and that makes the Priest trade bait. “Move ‘em at their peak value once age becomes a factor” – ignore this bit of advice at your own risk!

Larry Johnson – KC: A round one selection last year and the heir apparent to Holmes, Johnson is an intraguing player in any dynasty league. Just make sure you don’t spend too much for him.

Our only real option here is Holmes. After that, things seem to look rather bleak. This roster will need “fresh legs” in order to compete in this kind of format. Holmes is aging so he’s not a long-term solution, but it also may be a couple of years before Larry Johnson gets his shot.

Position Grade: D (Mostly due to age)

Affordable Candidates: One of the top six rookie RBs, Thomas Jones, Ron Dayne, Justin Fargas, Marcel Shipp, and Onterro Smith all come to mind here.

Wide Receivers

D’Wayne Bates – Min: Worthless as of this point in time.

Kevin Johnson – Bal: The move to Baltimore should resurrect his career. Rookies Devard Darling and Clarence Moore will help open up the passing game. Also, the Jamal Lewis situation may be just what was needed to make the Ravens focus on the air attack.

Jerry Porter – Oak: Al Davis’ future. If Porter doesn’t pan out, the Raiders will be in trouble. The big concern with him is that he can be “bumped” at the line of scrimmage, which can disrupt the timing of a lot of pass plays.

Antwaan Randle El – WR, Pit: Antwaan’s true value has yet to be established. While he has high upside, it’s a crowded WR
corps in Pittsburgh. Lean on him at your own risk.

Okay, we’ve got some youth here, but we still need some punch. Or at the very least we need more options.

Position Grade: C-

Affordable Candidates: Any of the top twelve rookies, David Terrell, Deion Branch, Tyrone Calico, or Donte Stallworth.

Tight Ends

Billy Miller – Hou: His future is in doubt with Joppru waiting in the wings. Also, Miller isn’t strong enough to be considered an every-down TE. He’s a converted WR, so his on-field time is questionable when it comes to disguised running situations.

Marcus Pollard – Ind: Dallas Clark … ’nuff said? Pollard’s production will fall off as a result of Clark’s emergence as a playmaker this season.

We need to upgrade with a young impact player at this position. The value of a consistent TEs is all too often forgotten by many fantasy owners.

Position Grade: C

Affordable Candidates: Any of the top four rookies, Erron Kinney, Anthony Becht, and Antonio Gates.
 

Oh yes – you wanted that trade info, didn’t you? Here you go:

Longview Lobos gave up Priest Holmes (RB, KC) and 2004 Round 1 Draft Pick #2

To Dungeon Vultures for Onterrio Smith (RB, Min), Michael Bennett (RB, Min), Donte Stallworth (WR, NO), Bert Berry (DL, Ari), Derrick Brooks (LB, TB), and 2004 Round 1 Draft Pick #11
 

We’ll have the defensive profile for you on Tuesday, as well as a better look at this big trade. In the meantime, ask yourself just how much you think those older players will help you in the 2006 season, and if you think they’ll be of value two years from now.

Ya’ll come back now, ya hear? See you in the Forums!
 

Following the Priest Holmes trade, Greg Yelderman is already hard at work looking for other ways to improve this squad.

What are your thoughts on this offense? And would you have traded Priest Homes, one of the top RBs in the game?

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