3 2 S P O R T S W R I T E R S
A N S W E R 3 2 Q U E S T I O N S
June 4, 2003
**Editor's Note: The following introduction to this article will appear in
the 2003 edition of FantasyGuru.com Magazine. However, all but a handful
of these Q&A's will not. This is because the article, originally entitled
"32 Sports Writers Answer 64 Questions" had to be cut down due to lack of
space in the magazine. While we had these secondary questions handy (the
more important questions will appear in the magazine in an article with
this same title) we figured we'd send them out to you now**
You're in the late stages of your fantasy draft and you're looking for a
#4 WR with some upside. You're thinking about Denver's Ashley Lelie, so
you bust out your cell and give Adam Schefter, Bronco beat writer for the
Denver Post, a call for the skinny on Lelie. Schefter, one of the best NFL
newspapermen in the business, offers up his positive prognosis on Lelie,
so you thank him for his time, hang up, and make the pick.
Talk about an advantage.
Now imagine having a direct pipeline to 32 beat writers representing each
NFL team with the opportunity to ask these journalists one key question
about the teams they cover, the teams they know like the back of their
hands. They might as well give you the trophy at the draft you would have
such an advantage.
It's that type of an advantage we're hoping to give you from reading this
feature. The scenario portrayed above is truly a fantasy for most fantasy
players, but lucky for you we're in a position to reach out to some of the
country's premier NFL beat writers, and we did just that.
Before we get into our 32 questions and answers, we'd like to thank these
great men for their time and we encourage you to visit their company's
sites and read their columns on a regular basis.
Sports Writer: Jim Skane, Arizonasportsfans.com
FantasyGuru.com Mag: Which two wide receivers do you see emerging from
training camp as the starters and can either become Jeff Blake's go-to
Skane: Bryan Gilmore and Jason McAddley are the most likely receivers to
become starters. Bryan Gilmore might be the go-to guy. Gilmore is the
team's fastest player, and OC Jerry Sullivan constantly raves about his
upside. Bryan had already begun replacing David Boston on 4th quarter
possessions last year, but a broken leg ended his season early. Rookie
Anquan Boldin has impressed as the slot receiver in three- WR sets.
However, with 12 WRs on the roster and no returning starters, all jobs are
Sports Writer: Charles Odum, Freelance writer and Sporting News Falcon
FantasyGuru.com Mag: After Peerless Price, who do you think will be the
team's most productive WR and why?
Odum: After Peerless Price, the competition at receiver will be wide open
in training camp. MarTay Jenkins accepted less money to sign with Atlanta
for one year because he believes he can be the team's # 2 receiver and
earn a big contract somewhere next season. Jenkins has excellent speed,
but the pick here is that Brian Finneran will hold on to his starting job
and may even challenge Price for the team lead in receptions. While Price
and Jenkins give the team big-play potential, Finneran is the man Michael
Vick has learned to count on to keep the chains moving, and that fact and
his size and experience will make him tough to beat out this summer.
Although he led the team in receiving last year, some key drops hurt
Finneran's reputation. this season, he should move past the key drops he
had and retain his starting job with Price, leaving Jenkins and others to
battle for the # 3 spot.
Sports Writer: Aaron Wilson, Carroll County Times
FantasyGuru.com Mag: RB Musa Smith was a draft-day steal for the Ravens.
If Jamal Lewis was lost for the season, would he be the featured back or
would Chester Taylor battle him for that spot?
Wilson: Director of player personnel Phil Savage predicted two weeks
before the draft that the Ravens wouldn't pass on Georgia running back
Musa Smith if he was available in the second round. The Ravens drafted him
in the third round, and scout Terry McDonough said Baltimore rated Smith
among its top-20 prospects. The plan is to basically redshirt Smith.
Obviously, if Jamal Lewis' knee flared up or an off-field issue arose,
Smith is far more well equipped to carry the load than undersized Chester
Taylor, who's basically a 3rd down back.
Sports Writer: Leo Roth, Rochester Democrat & Chronicle.
FantasyGuru.com Mag: Is second year WR Josh Reed ready to start and and
excel and if not how serious will his unreadiness affect QB Drew Blesdoe
and the passing game?
Roth: Josh Reed is ready, but it would be grossly unfair to expect him to
replace Peerless Price's 94 catches. He has hands of glue and great RAC,
making him a mid-range target, not the deep threat Price was. Bledsoe will
not be able to chuck and duck like he did last year on fly patterns to
Price, and is busy reprogramming himself. It definitely won't be as fun.
Sports Writer: Pat Yasinskas, The Charlotte Observer
FantasyGuru.com Mag: Which route will the Panthers go this year, the safer
one with QB Rodney Peete or the riskier one with more upside with Jake
Yasinskas: There's no clear-cut answer and the staff won't make a final
decision until near the end of the preseason. Peete is a favorite of
coordinator Dan Henning, who prefers quarterbacks that don't make many
mistakes. That could lead to Peete at least opening the season as the
starter. But the team knows he's only a short-term answer and needs to
find out if Delhomme can be the long-term answer. That's why the former
New Orleans backup will be given every chance to win the job. Also, keep
in mind that Peete never has been able to start all 16 games. No matter
which way the team goes, neither Peete nor Delhomme will put up big
fantasy numbers. This team's offense is centered on the running game and
the passing numbers won't be very impressive.
Sports Writer: Brad Biggs, Chicago Sun-Times
FantasyGuru.com Mag: It's clear that RB Anthony Thomas isn't a special
back, but which back will he be closer to, the offensive rookie of the
year in 2001 or the sophomore bust of 2002, and who carries the load if
Biggs: The Bears are saying the right things about Thomas now and they
prefer to go with experience, so Thomas has the starting job. If the line
is better, and if QB Kordell Stewart and TE Desmond Clark's abilities are
utilized the offense will change and defenses won't be able to stack the
box against Thomas as much and that will help. But those are a lot of ifs.
As for Adrian Peterson, the backup, I think the Bears see him more as a
role player and they have a fear of the unknown (Peterson), so I do not
envision him getting more than 6-8 carries a game.
Sports Writer: Mark Curnutte, Cincinnati Enquirer
FantasyGuru.com Mag: The team drafted WR Kelley Washington because of his
speed. If Washington is healthy, will he play often this year and will him
and Chad Johnson playing on the outside open up Peter Warrick to excel in
the slot? Or will we see a committee at WR again?
Curnutte: The plan, at this point, if Washington is healthy, is to line
him up as the third receiver with Johnson and Warrick. The Bengals said
that as Johnson emerged as a deep threat last season, defenses were
rolling over and covering him more. Washington could bring some speed on
the opposite side, and the middle would open up more for Warrick. Besides
helping in the pass offense, the plan also would force defenses to play
the safeties deeper and keep an eighth defender "out of the box" against
the run. It would then open up more room for tailback Corey Dillon.
Sports Writer: Zac Jackson, Clevelandbrowns.com
FantasyGuru.com Mag: When the Browns do officially name their starting QB
how much leeway will that player have if he's struggling?
Jackson: I think that a winner in the QB Derby probably won't be decided
until a week or maybe even two weeks into training camp. But when one is
picked, I believe he'll be the one all season barring a disaster. Butch
Davis doesn't believe in QB controversies and rotating QB's and letting it
become a distraction. The guy who wins will know the job is his and won't
have to worry about a short leash and looking over his shoulder and
getting yanked for making one bad throw. I really think that Coach Davis
believes that sometimes teams who have two quarterbacks don't really have
Sports Writer: Clarence Hill, Forth Worth Star Telegram
FantasyGuru.com Mag: It's clear that Troy Hambrick will have an excellent
opportunity on the Cowboys this year. In just his first year as a
starter, can he be a consistent producer and will he play well enough to
appease Bill Parcells?
Hill: The biggest question is he going to get it done in the offseason.
Parcells wanted him to come in in May at 240 pouunds but he blew up to 260
(he was down to 250 in late May). Parcells wants him in shape because he
not only wants him to carry the load, but do so for four quarters. The
biggest problem with the Cowboy offense last year was their line, but they
have committed to improve their blocking. Hambrick didn't run as well last
year because he was used sparingly, but whenever he's played he's been
productive and his yards per carry high. The Cowboys will run the ball
with Hambrick 20+ times a game or with Hambrick around 15 times a game and
committee of backs gettting the rest of the carries. It's up to Hambrick
as to which way they go.
Sports Writer: Adam Schefter, Denver Post
FantasyGuru.com Mag: If Clinton Portis gets injured, particularly if he's
out a while, whom will the Broncos start in his place?
Schefter: The Broncos drafted two running backs, Quentin Griffin from
Oklahoma and Ahmaad Galloway from Alabama, and everybody knows Denver's
track record on picking backs. Of those two, Griffin would be the leading
candidate to backup Portis and succeed him should there be an injury.
Griffin is tiny but dynamic, and Denver will find a way to use his
talents. But also remember that Mike Anderson, a former 1,500-yard rusher,
easily could be shifted from fullback to running back. If Portis were to
go down indefinitely, Anderson might become Denver's new starting running
Sports Writer: Greg Johnson, Grand Rapids Press
FantasyGuru.com Mag: If he has the healthy bodies to do so, should we
expect Steve Mariucci to use a committee of sorts at RB as he did in San
Francisco with Garrison Hearst and Kevan Barlow and if so who will be the
guys getting the touches?
Johnson: I would expect him to stick to the roots of his past and continue
to use a committee at RB. While Stewart has been solid and productive,
he's getting older and Mariucci depends on the run more, so Stewart will
need support. As for who will get the carries, Mariucci has a bunch of
choices - a clear indication that he will use a committee - so it's too
early to tell. They like rookie Artose Pinner and of course Shawn Bryson
is an option. But a dark horse will be second year back Luke Staley, who
has looked very good in the minicamps and I would not rule him out.
Green Bay Packers
Sports Writer: Rob Demovsky, Green Bay Press-Gazette
FantasyGuru.com Mag: If Ahman Green were out for a significant amount of
time, who would carry the load at RB, Tony Fisher or Najeh Davenport (or
Demovsky: The Packers are very high on Davenport. He has completely
recovered from last season's eye socket injury and was healthy for
minicamp. He reported lean and muscular and has settled into the backup
tailback spot after splitting time last season between tailback and
fullback. The signing of Nick Luchey at fullback means Davenport can
concentrate solely on tailback. There was a significant dropoff last
season when the Packers went to Tony Fisher. Although he had some
productive games, he wasn't as consistent as they would have liked.
However, for an undrafted free agent, Fisher was a pleasant surprise and
should be the # 3 tailback this season. NOTE: This question was answered
before the Packers signed free agent RB Lamar Smith.
Sports Writer: John McClain, Houston Chronical
FantasyGuru.com Mag: Is the plan in Houston to move WR Jabar Gaffney to
the #3 WR slot and start rookie Andre Johnson along with Corey Bradford?
And is Johnson ready to make a big impact this year or will he be slow off
the mark in 2003?
McClain: Going into camp, the starting receivers will be Bradford and
Gaffney. In passing situations, Johnson will play opposite Bradford, and
Gaffney will move inside. Because so few rookie receivers make an impact,
especially if they're underclassmen, the coaches will be patient with
Johnson. Something they won't admit but is cause for concern involves
receiver Charles Rogers, the second overall pick. Rogers' agents, the
Poston brothers, are notorious for clients who hold out. If Rogers holds
out, Johnson will hold out because it would be foolish for Johnson to sign
before the receiver drafted in front of him. Obviously, the Texans would
like Johnson to play well enough to start opposite Bradford, giving them
two legitimate deep threats, but they won't rush him into the lineup.
Sports Writer: Mike Chappell, Indianapolis Star & News
FantasyGuru.com Mag: The Colts haven't exactly had a true #2 WR opposite
Marvin Harrison in the recent past. Will they this year and, if so, is it
Reggie Wayne or Brandon Stokely?
Chappell: Since the arrival of quarterback Peyton Manning in 1998, the
Colts have tried to find a # 2 receiving option to take some of the heat
off Marvin Harrison. They've failed with, among others, Jerome Pathon,
E.G. Green, Terrence Wilkins, and Qadry Ismail. If the team sticks with
its two-tight end approach in 2003, Reggie Wayne likely will open the
season as the # 2 wide receiver. Brandon Stokley seems more suited to
working in the slot in three-receiver formations. This is the year Wayne
should emerge. He played well last year, but his contributions were
limited as the team went with Ismail as the # 2 option much of the season.
Wayne should be better this year than Ismail was last year.
Sports Writer: Vito Stellino, Florida Times-Union
FantasyGuru.com Mag: With Stacey Mack gone, can fantasy owners expect RB
Fred Taylor to not only receive a large percentage of the carries but also
the goal-line carries? And who will start for him if he's out?
Stellino: It's uncertain who will start for Fred Taylor if he's injured
now that Stacey Mack has departed. Elvis Joseph is the other returning
running back, but he didn't get a single carry last year. New FB Marc
Edwards might get some duty in goal-line situations. Rookie LaBrandon
Toefield is there, but between him and Joseph, I'd guess Joseph because of
Toefield's injuries and inexperience. But it's just a guess and could
change in camp. In effect, they don't have a proven backup.
Kansas City Chiefs
Sports Writer: Adam Teicher, Kansas City Star
FantasyGuru.com Mag: The selection of RB Larry Johnson raised a lot of
eyebrows on draft day, especially since the team had needs on defense.
What will Johnson's role be if Holmes is healthy and if he is not?
Teicher: Larry Johnson will be the starting halfback if Priest Holmes
isn't healthy and an insurance policy if he is. The Chiefs had no quality
or reliable backup at halfback so, given Holmes' uncertain status,
halfback was really their biggest need heading into the draft. They had
addressed their most pressing defensive needs in free agency, so there
wasn't going to be another rookie who could help them as much as Johnson
will, even if Holmes is healthy.
Sports Writer: Jason Cole, Miami Herald
FantasyGuru.com Mag: If, God forbid for Dolphins fans, Ricky Williams were
lost for the season, whom on the roster now would replace him as the
featured back? Or will they even have one?
Cole: Robert Edwards will be given another training camp to prove he's an
every-down back and seems the most likely choice if he continues to
progress in his comeback. Travis Minor is the next candidate. Minor runs
hard, has good speed, and is decisive. However, he generally lacks the
size and power of a tradition "bell cow" running back. That said,
offensive coordinator Norv Turner has made his running game go with other
runners who were limited (Terry Allen and Stephen Davis), so there's a
good chance the Dolphins could survive without Ricky Williams. But
surviving is a long way from thriving.
Sports Writer: Sean Jensen, St. Paul Pioneer Press
FantasyGuru.com Mag: With quality players Moe Williams and Onterio Smith
playing behind him, will the team continue to have a strong committment to
Michael Bennett as their unquestioned featured back?
Jensen: Moe Williams is only a role player and Smith, unless he totally
wows the team in the preseason, will be only a kick returner and a backup
RB. The Vikings would actually like to see Doug Chapman occasionally spell
Bennett, with Williams the 3rd down and goal-line back. As for Bennett,
they are 100% committed to his being the featured back and they are
thrilled with his development and future potential. Look for the Vikings
to throw him more screen passes this year in the hopes that he'll take one
30+ yards for a score every few weeks. Bennett was not an accomplished
receiver coming out of college, but he has good hands and they believe he
will be a force in the passing game.
New England Patriots
Sports Writer: Nick Cafardo, Boston Globe
FantasyGuru.com Mag: How much of Troy Brown's lackluster production last
year can be blamed on his injury, and will he be 100% and ready to produce
this year like he did in 2001?
Cafardo: A great percentage of Troy Brown's lack of yardage after the
catch was due to his knee injury that he incurred in the third game of the
season, and he was never the same after that. Brown should be 100% and be
back to his breakaway ways. When healthy, he still has more intangibles
working for him than anyone else on the field. He finds holes in defenses
where he can get open and then gain yardage after the catch. Last year, it
was pretty much, catch the ball and go down. If I were a betting man, I'd
venture to say he goes back to the productive threat he was two years ago.
New Orleans Saints
Sports Writer: Jeff Duncan, New Orleans Times-Picayune
FantasyGuru.com Mag: The Saints last season acquired RB Curtis Keaton
presumably to be the backup RB but he never made it that far. Is he going
to be the guy they turn to if Deuce McAllister gets hurt or will it be
James Fenderson or a combination of the two?
Duncan: Fans shouldn't judge Keaton on his meager production last season.
He was thrown into the fire after being acquired in a trade before the
season opener and never really grew comfortable with the Saints' complex
West Coast Offense. With a full off-season under his belt, Keaton has more
time to familiarize himself with the scheme and assume a larger role in
the attack. Opinions within the organization are mixed on Keaton. Some
believe he has rare explosiveness and acceleration and could develop into
a big-time potential. Others question his natural running skills and
instincts and wonder if he'll ever be more than an adequate backup. This
season will go a long way toward defining Keaton's career.
New York Jets
Sports Writer: Rich Cimini, New York Daily News
FantasyGuru.com Mag: With Laveranues Coles gone, there is a good
opportunity for Santana Moss to step up and become a major factor in the
passing game. Is there a plan to get him very involved and is he up to the
Cimini: The Jets are counting heavily on Moss to pick up some of the
production they lost when Coles bolted to the Redskins. With veteran
newcomer Curtis Conway still learning the offense and quarterback Chad
Pennington, Moss will be the key to the post-Coles transition period. Team
officials would like to get him on the field for about 70% of the snaps.
Moss, who backed up Wayne Chrebet at flanker last season, also will learn
the split-end position, enabling him to spell Conway. The team would be
happy if Moss caught at least 50-55 balls, with Chrebet and Conway
combining for 120 to 130. A year ago, Coles, Chrebet, and Moss combined
for 170 catches and 18 touchdowns. Pennington's goal is 240, which seems a
bit out of reach. They should be thrilled with another 170.
New York Giants
Sports Writer: Ralph Vacchiano, New York Daily News
FantasyGuru.com Mag: The Giant offense could be very potent. Is there any
reason the Giants won't be able to pick up where they left off last year
with Jim Fassell calling the plays?
Vacchiano: There shouldn't be any reason. After the way they finished 2002
the Giants certainly expect to have the league's most dangerous offense in
2003. They averaged 27 points in the 10 games with Fassel at the helm last
season, including a 31-point average in the last six. No NFL team was
better. And the Giants did that without receiver Ike Hilliard, who'll
return from a shoulder injury this season. Barring a collapse on the right
side of their offensive line (RG Jason Whittle and RT Mike Rosenthal left
as free agents) and barring any injuries to the irreplacable trio of QB
Kerry Collins, RB Tiki Barber and TE Jeremy Shockey, it's safe to expect
more of the same.
Sports Writer: David Bush, San Francisco Chronicle
FantasyGuru.com Mag: An arguement can be made that WR Jerry Porter,
playing often in the slot, was the go-to guy in the Raider passing game
last year. Can we expect Porter's role to increase even more this year,
and, if yes, at whose expense?
Bush: Obviously Porter's role increased dramatically last year, partially
because Gruden wasn't around to dog him. There is no reason to believe he
will not increase in prominence as the Raiders prepare for life without
Tim and Jerry, which will happen sooner rather than later. Whose balls
will Porter be catching? Hard to say. Brown was a bigger factor early in
the year the last two seasons and Rice came on later. Brown is probably
going to suffer the most because Rice is more of a deep threat at this
stage than he is. But Rich Gannon knows that an unhappy Brown is not a
pleasant Brown, and he ultimately is in charge of who gets the ball.
Sports Writer: Mark Eckel, Trenton Times
FantasyGuru.com Mag: Whom do you expect to be the team's #3 WR this year
Eckel: Rookie wide receiver Billy McMullen, the third-round pick from
Virginia, will be given a chance to win the #3 spot in training camp.
McMullen, 6'31/2 ", 210, has the size and strength the Eagles' other
receiver's lack and should provide a big target for Donovan McNabb over
the middle. McMullen's inexperience is his only drawback. But if he can
learn Andy Reid's version of the West Coast Offense (he played a similar
stye in college), he could win the job. If not, Antonio Freeman's cell
phone is still on Reid's speed dial.
Sports Writer: Jerry DiPaola, Pittsburgh Tribune-Review
FantasyGuru.com Mag: If QB Tommy Maddox struggles for more than a few
weeks, will the Steelers consider giving Charlie Batch?
DiPaola: Steelers coach Bill Cowher has proven that he will do anything to
win. He benched quarterback Kordell Stewart after three games in 2002, and
Stewart was coming off a 2001 season where he was the team's MVP and third
in the league MVP voting. The Steelers have not rushed to sign Maddox to a
more lucrative contract, and they need to be shown that he can continue to
lead the offense as efficiently as he did a yer ago. He has the confidence
of Cowher and offensive coordinator Mike Mularkey -- probably moreso than
Stewart ever did. But the expectations are so high that Cowher will not
hesitate to turn to Charlie Batch, if he believes it will help. A lot
depends on training camp. It was there last year that Maddox so impressed
the coaches that it was only a matter of time until he took Stewart's job.
If Maddox falters at any time during the regular season, Batch could do
the same thing this summer.
San Diego Chargers
Sports Writer: Jim Trotter, San Diego Union-Tribune
FantasyGuru.com Mag: Asside from David Boston, whom do you expect will be
the team's most productive receiver in 2003?
Trotter: My bet is LaDainian Tomlinson, who led the team in catches last
season. The second-leading wideout likely will be Tim Dwight, who figures
to go back to the #3 receiver spot, where he is extremely effective.
San Francisco 49ers
Sports Writer: Matt Maiocco, The Santa Rosa Press Democrat
FantasyGuru.com Mag: Do you think that new coach Dennis Erickson's
influence will make the 49er passing game one of the most productive in
the league again or will Garica miss his old coach?
Maiocco: Jeff Garcia will certainly not miss the run-oriented offense that
former coach Steve Mariucci preferred. At times the past couple seasons,
Garcia had to bite his lip when asked about the emphasis on the offense.
Erickson is known as an offensive innovator who likes to attack. Garcia
isn't necessarily proficient at getting the ball down the field, but
Erickson will use a variety of play-action pass to get one-on-one coverage
down the field. Despite earning his third straight trip to the Pro Bowl
last season, Garcia did not have a great season. He averaged just 6.3
yards per pass attempt. It's a certainty that he will be more productive -
if he remains healthy -- this season.
Sports Writer: Clare Farnsworth, Seattle Post-Intelligencer
FantasyGuru.com Mag: Seattle has a solid TE in Itula Mili, but a possible
star in Jerramy Stevens. Will Mili continue to start this year and make it
hard for Stevens to challenge for a Pro Bowl berth?
Farnsworth: Mili was the starter last season because, originally, he had
seniority and then Stevens got a high ankle sprain in the first - and only
- game he did start. Mili took advantage of the situation to a franchise
record for receptions by a tight end, but even he knows that it will be
impossible to hold back the inevitable. Even when Stevens is the starter,
however, Mili will continue to play a role in the passing game. The
Seahawks do not have a proven #4 wide receiver to go with Koren Robinson,
Darrell Jackson, and Bobby Engram. But it doesn't stop them from using a
four-wide look with one or both of the tight ends on the field. They have
flanked and slotted Mili and Stevens in those sets, and will continue to
do so. It creates matchup problems for the defense because the Seahawks
show two-tight end personnel in the huddle, only to with a four-wide
alignment - with receivers who have bigger bodies to use in man coverage
but also are adept at finding creases in zone coverage.
St. Louis Rams
Sports Writer: Howard Balzer, USA Today Sports Weekly (and St. Louis
FantasyGuru.com Mag: Considering he's missed time three years in a row due
to injury, fantasy players will want to know this summer who to draft on
the Rams in the event that Marshall Faulk is out again this year. Who'll
be the starter if Faulk is out, Lamar Gordon or Leon Johnson?
Balzer: Gordon would be the starter if Faulk's forced to the sideline.
Whether Gordon keeps the job depends on the ball security issues that
affected him last season as a rookie. Gordon has good running and
receiving ability, and caught the ball last season better than the Rams
thought he would. But his fumbling was a problem that would not be
accepted if he was playing a significant role in the offense. Leon Johnson
doesn't bring the play-making ability to the table that Gordon can, but
Johnson is steady and would be called upon if Gordon struggled.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Sports Writer: Rick Stroud, St. Petersburg Times
FantasyGuru.com Mag: It took until the Super Bowl, but RB Michael Pittman
finally performed at a level most expected him to last year. Was his
performance a preview of things to come in 2003 or will he again fail to
make a substantial impact in 2003?
Stroud: I think it was a preview of things to come, most likey. Pittman
played a good portion of the 2002 season on a bad ankle. Performing the
way he did when it meant the most (in the Super Bowl, his only 100-yard
game) will give him confidence heading into the season plus he'll have
less pressure on him compared to last year, when he took over for a
popular back in Warrick Dunn. I also think Jon Gruden will have a better
grasp of what kind of plays he exels in. Last but not least, Pittman will
be running behind a better line in 2003. NOTE: This was written before
Pittman's recent domestic problems.
Sports Writer: Paul Kuharsky, The Nashville Tennessean
FantasyGuru.com Mag: The Titans have a solid group of backs behind Eddie
George now. Should we expect the team to spell him even more or will the
Titans ride George and continue to lean on him as much as possible?
Kuharsky: As he struggled with his per carry average for the second year
in a row, Eddie George became a more situational player in 2002. That
trend will continue in 2003. While the Titans will keep him as the starter
and not concede he's slipping, Jeff Fisher's said George's role will be
different. Third-round draft pick Chris Brown from Colorado is a
George-type with his upright style but more speed. Look for him and either
Robert Holcombe or John Simon to get the ball in situations in which the
Titans are hoping to pop a big run, something George rarely did even in
his prime. Look for George, who will play less on third downs, to get a
lot of carries in games when the plan is to control the clock by running a
lot and to take handoffs in short-yardage and goal-line situations
Sports Writer: Nunyo Demasio, Washington Post
FantasyGuru.com Mag: The Redskins are excited about Trung Canidate, but
can you see another back challenging him for the starting job? If so who?
Demasio: Canidate is the leading candidate among four unproven tailbacks
vying to replace Stephen Davis. Ladell Betts, Kenny Watson and ostensibly
kick returner Chad Morton are the others. Nonetheless, Canidate -- who has
been practicing with the starters -- apparently, has the edge because of
his breakaway speed. Just as with the St. Louis Rams, Coach Steve
Spurrier's offense is tailored for a tailback with super speed. By
stretching the field with wideouts such as Laveranues Coles, Spurrier
envisions Canidate parlaying short passes, screens and draws into big
gains. Perhaps Betts has the best shot at challenging Canidate, but it's
largely because the Redskins won't keep four tailbacks. Watson, who has
proven to be a capable NFL tailback when given the opportunity, is
probably the odd man out. If Canidate stays injury prone or doesn't show
good receiving skills, the Redskins won't hesitate to make Betts the