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In the Trenches: Edge of Stardom


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In the Trenches: Edge of stardom


Aug. 31, 2004

By Michael Fabiano

Senior Fantasy Writer

When the Indianapolis Colts battle the New England Patriots at Gillette Stadium on Sept. 9, over 15 million Fantasy Football owners will kick off a new NFL season. With the first regular-season snap so close at hand, there's no better time then to look into the CBS SportsLine.com crystal ball and predict which players will earn some of the league's top awards.

Most Valuable Player: Daunte Culpepper, QB, Minnesota -- Culpepper has been so impressive this preseason that the team might replace his No. 11 with a Superman symbol. He has compiled 448 passing yards and four touchdowns through three games, and looks to be in midseason form.

With a lethal weapon like wide receiver Randy Moss, a solid offensive line and the support of coach Mike Tice, Culpepper will have a monstrous season and confirm his status as the No. 1 quarterback in Fantasy Football. Runner-up: Brett Favre, QB, Green Bay

Offensive Player of the Year: LaDainian Tomlinson, RB, San Diego -- Despite being on a team that has no chance at a .500 record, Tomlinson will get the recognition he deserves. The Chargers did little to improve their offense, so L.T. will again have to shoulder the brunt of the load.

The Texas Christian product should compile close to 80 receptions, 2,500 all-purpose yards and 20 touchdowns, and is the one running back outside of Priest Holmes who warrants the No. 1 overall selection. Runner-up: Holmes

Defensive Player of the Year: Ray Lewis, LB, Baltimore -- Lewis is the most feared defender in the league and will be the centerpiece of what should be a dominant Ravens defense. He is a valuable option in leagues that utilize individual defenders, and his presence in the middle of the field also gives the overall unit immense appeal.

With Terrell Suggs, Chris McAlister, Ed Reed and now Deion Sanders at his side, Lewis is bound to have another stellar campaign. Runner-up: Jason Taylor, DL, Miami

Comeback Player of the Year: Rich Gannon, QB, Oakland -- Gannon's stock has fallen in drafts, but this 38-year-old still has some tricks up his sleeve. He has performed well in three exhibition starts, showing no ill effects from the injured shoulder that limited him last season.

The veteran has an array of weapons on offense, an up-and-coming wide receiver in Jerry Porter, and a coach in Norv Turner who will manage the offense to his strengths. Gannon might not throw for 4,000 yards and 25 touchdowns, but he'll be darn close. Runner-up: Michael Vick, QB, Atlanta

Offensive Rookie of the Year: Kevin Jones, RB, Detroit -- Jones is expected to become the Lions No. 1 running back as a rookie, and will be a productive option in the middle rounds in leagues with 12-plus teams. A versatile back with immense upside, the former Virginia Tech Hokie should surpass the 1,000-yard mark and find the end zone six to eight times. Runner-up: Larry Fitzgerald, WR, Arizona

Defensive Rookie of the Year: Sean Taylor, DB, Washington --Taylor has been so good this preseason that the team released incumbent Ifeanyi Ohalete. He has shown flashes of brilliance on the field, and is poised to overtake Andre Lott atop the depth chart.

Taylor has increased value in individual defender leagues, and makes the Redskins defense more attractive in leagues with 12-plus teams. Runner-up: Kenechi Udeze, DL, Minnesota

Coach of the Year: Joe Gibbs, Washington -- How can you go wrong with a coach who has already been inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame? The 'Skins turned back the clock to hire its most successful coach, and added integral components that should turn a mediocre team into a postseason contender. Runner-up: Mike Holmgren, Seattle

AFC postseason teams: Baltimore, Indianapolis, Kansas City, New England, New York Jets, Tennessee.

NFC postseason teams: Carolina, Green Bay, Minnesota, Philadelphia, Seattle, Washington.

Super Bowl XXXIX: Washington over Indianapolis The Denver Broncos are the one franchise to repeat in the past decade, and three of the past four Super Bowl champions didn't make the postseason the previous season.

For those reasons, as well as the addition of Mark Brunell, Clinton Portis, Shawn Springs and Micheal Barrow, I'll go out on a limb and predict that the 'Skins will take home their fourth title.

Trench mailbag

Mike Bennett, New Orleans: Who will make a bigger impact in Detroit: Charles Rogers or Roy Williams?

M.F.: Barring injuries, Rogers will be the more productive option this season. Williams is a solid middle- to late-round option with incredible upside, but the fact remains that most rookie receivers have a difficult time with the transition from college to the pros. Barring injuries, Rogers should post 1,000 yards and six to eight touchdowns.

Rhett Carlin, Kennesaw, Ga.: Will David Terrell pan out now that he is the first option in Chicago? Could be become a potential sleeper?

M.F.: Terrell has definite sleeper potential and is now worth a middle- to-late round selection in leagues with 12-plus teams. Justin Gage also has upside and should receive consideration in the late rounds.

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I was just gonna post this. After I read it, my first comment was, "What the hell is this guy smokin'?" That is one bold prediction. As Redskin crazy as I am and we all are on this site I don't think anyone really expects a Superbowl this year. (Although please save me a seat on the Superbowl Bandwagon.)It would be nice, but I don't expect it.

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O.Z - that is the first thing I thought of also...WOW.

You gotta love that. I hope the fact that this guy is a "fantasy" writer doesnt mean he is completely fantasy oriented...definitely this is a fantasy - One I hope becomes reality. The only thing I would change is defensive players Washington or LaVar be chosen for defensive player of the year... And what about Portis for Offensive POY. In the immortal words of the Stones..."You cant always get what you want" I guess that is asking too much...I totally agree with ST and St Joe picks. This just makes me even more pumped up for the season start. :point2sky

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