Bringin' the Noise: Cream of the Crop

Brad Evans

"Men are rated by their ability to finish not by what they attempt." – Unknown

It was a year an Oompah-Loompah become a giant. A Bolt produced heavenly numbers. And a gentle draft day Brees strengthened into a hellacious hurricane.

Marked by excessive tailback timeshares, quarterback quandaries and instant-impact rookies, in a nutshell, 2006 was about as predictable as guessing what Cincin-Attica delinquent would land in the pokey next. The demise of former studs Shaun Alexander, Edgerrin James and Randy Moss, and the unforeseen rise of contributors like Marques Colston, reminds us all that there are no guarantees in a parity-filled league where the specter of injury and the orange glow of Lucifer Mike Shanahan constantly looms.

As timeless as the Oscars, Grammies and the always entertaining Razzies, it's time to give out the hardware for the first annual Noisers. Ridiculous nicknames and man-crushes are strongly encouraged.

LaDanian Tomlinson, SD, RB 2006 Stats: 5.6 YPC, 1749 rush YDs, 31 total TDs, 54 receptions, 494 YDs
Notes: Widely considered the Burger King when compared to draft day royals Shaun Alexander and Larry Johnson, LT trumped them all. Arguably the greatest fantasy season ever recorded, his 31 combined touchdowns obliterated "The Great's" single-season record merely a year after it was set. Amazingly, Tomlinson had one 100-yard game through Week 7, but exploded over the next nine weeks averaging a heel-clicking 169.3 total yards and 2.5 touchdowns-per-game. Every Captain Obvious will tell you he's the pick of the litter next year, but I'm one who never pays for a career year. Auction leaguers should be ready to shell out $75-$80 to acquire his services. However, with the steady improvement of Philip Rivers and the rise of receiver Vincent Jackson, Tomlinson will likely tally 20-25 scores in '07. That is, unless the Madden Curse strikes again.
Runner-Up: Steven Jackson, StL, RB

Maurice Jones-Drew, Jax, RB 2006 Stats: 5.8 YPC, 895 rush YDs, 14 total TDs, 42 receptions, 420 YDs
Notes: Oompah-Loopmah doompah dee doo, MJD was a one-man wrecking crew. In a running back class with numerous headliners, Jones-Drew was considered a B-stage act by most fantasy and NFL draft gurus. When the hyphenated one burst onto the scene with 135 total yards and a touch versus Indy in Week 3, midget madness was born. From Week 10 on, Jones-Drew was an unstoppable consistency king, scoring at least once in seven consecutive games. Labeled a third-down back by many scouts with questionable between-the-tackles skills, the squatty youngster cast off his naysayers, carrying the pill 20 times per game for an insane 6.7 yards-per-carry over the fantasy playoffs. Given Fred Taylor's advanced age and attractiveness to land sharks, Jones-Drew is a legit late first-rounder next year in a grind-it-out Jags offense.
Runner-Up: Joseph Addai, Ind, RB

Laveranues Coles, NYJ, WR 2006 Stats: 89 receptions, 1074 YDs, 6 TDs
Notes: The most misspelled first name in fantasy was a white hot value drafted largely after pick 90 in performance leagues. Reunited with "We Are Marshall" product Chad Pennington, Coles recaptured the magic he had with the pale-skinned QB back in 2002. A points-per-receptions beast, Coles ignited the afterburners for five 100-yard games and caught at lest four passes in 12 of 16 tilts. His career-best tying 12 catches for 144 yards and a touchdown in Week 15 was a playoff godsend. As long as Pennington mans the controls, he's a mid-tier No. 2 who will likely hang around until Round 6.
Runner-Up: Fred Taylor, Jax, RB

Marques Colston, NO, WR/TE 2006 Stats: 70 receptions, 1038 YDs, 8 TDs
Notes: This year Colston gets a heart-filled box of man-crush chocolates from yours truly for Valentine's Day. Thanks to an scouting report that classified Colston as a "tweener," the 7th-Round selection out of Hofstra gained dual eligibility in Yahoo! leagues despite never playing a single down at tight end in college. Through the first 10 weeks of the season, Colston was the top TE dog, and a top-five receiver, notching five 100-yard games and seven touchdowns in nine games. With Joe Horn on the downside of his career and the impeccable chemistry the youngster has with Drew Brees, Colston is ready to leap forward in '07. Bank on numbers around 85 receptions, 1,400 yards and 10-12 touchdowns.
Runner-Up: Ron Dayne, Hou, RB

Marvin Harrison, Ind, WR 2006 Stats: 90 receptions, 1292 YDs, 12 TDs
Notes: Harrison is the Napoleon of consistency kings. Relatively quiet for much of the first half of the season, Harrison saved his best for last, averaging 7.3 receptions, 117.8 yards and 1.5 touchdowns-per-game from Weeks 13-16. On the year, the eight-time Pro-Bowler totaled a staggering eighth straight season of at least 1,100 yards and 10-plus scores. At 34, you would think father time would catch up to him, but he still has at least 2-3 No. 1 seasons left.
Runner-Up: Terrell Owens, Dal, WR

Marion Barber III, Dal, RB 2006 Stats: 5.0 YPC, 639 rush YDs, 15 total TDs, 18 receptions, 173 YDs
Notes: The Tuna loves his Barber. To pat myself on the back, Barber was advertised prominently by the Noise as a potential breakout candidate. On average, the 111th pick in performance drafts, Barber was a steady soldier, marching into the end zone at least once in all but four games. Julius Jones trade rumors have already surfaced in Big D and if they come to fruition, Barber instantly vaults into the running back top-seven for '07. The Tuna is a firm platoon believer, but if Barber were to enter camp on top of the depth chart, you've got to snag him in Round 2. Jones and Barber combined for 315.1 fantasy points in performance leagues, which would have ranked second overall behind LT.
Runner-Up: Drew Brees, NO, QB

Carnell Williams, TB, RB 2006 Stats: 3.5 YPC, 798 YDs, 1 TD, 30 receptions, 196 YDs
Notes: The victim of a young, inexperienced offensive line, a ruptured spleen and a fallen Polish prince, Cadillac's tires were bald by mid-season. With only one score, three games of 100-plus yards and a miserable 3.5 yards-per-carry average, many owners will bypass him in '07 drafts. Tampa Bay signed Chris Simms to a two-year extension on December 23 and there is talk a wily veteran, such as Jake Plummer, could be brought in to foster competition. If offensive line needs are addressed via free agency or the draft (i.e. Wisconsin's behemoth Joe Thomas), buy on the late-second round markdown next year.
Runner-Up: Eli Manning, NYG, QB

Corey Dillon, NE, RB 2006 Stats: 4.0 YPC, 745 rush YDs, 11 total TDs, 13 receptions, 88 YDs
Notes: The aging workhorse's value, as another Dylan noted, is "Blowin' in the Wind." At times this season, Dillon was a tin man in need of an oil shower. Although still powerful at the goal-line, his paltry 49.7 yards-per-game average has transformed him from a trustworthy No. 2 to a mediocre flex play. Despite being one of nine runners to tally double-digit scores, he will play second fiddle to electric youngster Laurence Maroney next year. At 34, the yellow brick road is a distant memory.
Runner-Up: Brett Favre, GB, QB

Some dude named Phil Notes: After I wrote a longwinded, three-point dissertation on why LaMont Jordan deserved first round consideration, the ever-wise Phil put a sock in the Noise's mouth. Fortuitously, Phil predicted that Jordan would be "the biggest fantasy bust this year." Before he was befallen by a season-ending knee injury in Week 10, Jordan averaged a terrible 3.8 yards-per-carry and 48.2 yards-per-game in nine contests. Phil, I raise a pint and commend you for bringin' the noise. Congrats!
Runner-Up: "Moron" Matt in Lansing, Michigan who told me back in mid-November that the Lions would "run-the-table and make the playoffs." Go sob uncontrollably in your "Fire Matt Millen" t-shirt.

I'm a complete boob for … Not drafting Drew Brees.
Notes: Although he tripped at the finish line, his eight 300-yard and seven multi-TD games turned this Saint into a full-fledged Pope. Instead of tooting Kurt Warner's over-the-hill horn, I should have waited another round and went with the always underrated Brees. On average, he went in the mid-eighth round in 12-team drafts. At this point, along with Peyton Manning and Carson Palmer, you will need to reach for his services no later than Round 3. Me, I'll wait a few rounds later and get the next big thing, Jay Cutler, after Round 10.

King Kong ain't got nothing on me for … Saving the eyes and memories of thousands of Buffalo citizens.
Notes: My apologies to my one female fan in the greater Buffalo area. The Big Noise will not ring in the New Year in a Speedo this season. Thankfully, Willis McGahee finished 22nd in running back scoring, seven places off banana hammock humiliation.

QBs: 15+ fantasy pts
RBs: 10+ fantasy pts
WRs: 7+ fantasy pts
TEs: 6+ fantasy pts
D/ST: 10+ fantasy pts
*Scoring system:
4 Pts/Pass TD
1 Pt/20 pass yards
6 Pts/Rush-Rec TD
1 Pt/10 Rush-Rec yards
-1 Pt/INT or FL
W: Jay Cutler = 15 Pts
W: Ron Dayne = 27 Pts
W: Green Bay D = 12 Pts
L: Michael Turner = 2 Pts
L: D.J. Hackett = 3 Pts
L: Tim Rattay = 9 Pts
DNP: Carnell Williams
Week 16 Flame Record: 3-3
Season Total: 58-54 = 52%
W: Trent Green = 10 Pts
W: Willie Parker = 3 Pts
W: Tatum Bell = 5 Pts
W: Chad Johnson = 3 Pts
W: Terry Glenn = 1 Pt
Week 16 Lame Record: 5-0
Season Total: 40-38 = 51%, BAM!

TOP 27 OF 2007
Because fantasy football consumption never ends, here is a sneak peak and my early '07 cheatsheet for performance non-PPR leagues.

1. LaDanian Tomlinson, SD, RB: In a class by himself, but beware of the Madden Curse!
2. Larry Johnson, KC, RB: Grand-Ma-Ma baked 10 100-yard cookies in 2006 and should be good for 1,800 total yards and 13-16 end-zone treats in '07.
3. Steven Jackson, StL, RB: Healthy Orlando Pace and likely offseason O-line improvements point to a career year.
4. Frank Gore, SF, RB: Don't call him Al. His eight 100-yard games make him no "Inconvenient Truth."
5. Clinton Portis, Was, RB: Portis blossoms for 15-20 TDs with a year of the complicated Al Saunders system under his belt, but make sure you grab Ladell Betts.
6. Shaun Alexander, Sea, RB: His 140-yard, two-TD performance in Week 15 shows he's still a force, but the snowball is on the backside of the hill.
7. Willie Parker, Pit, RB: Silenced his critics who believed he couldn't handle a full load, notching 11 touchdowns and two-200 yard games.
8. Brian Westbrook, Phi, RB: The most versatile back in fantasy is a PPR-monster who had 100-total yards in 12 of 14 games.
9. Rudi Johnson, Cin, RB Yardage totals dipped by 13 percent, but RJ scored 12 times for the third straight year
10. Maurice Jones-Drew, Jax, RB: Rolly polly frame, open-field explosiveness and baby soft hands makes him the AFC's version of Brian Westbrook.
11. Brandon Jacobs, NYG, RB: With Tiki in the booth, the "Football Frankenstein" lumbers his way to a 1,400 total yard, 10-12 touchdown season.
12. Ronnie Brown, Mia, RB: If Daunte Culpepper can return to respectable levels, Brown could be a bargain at the first round turn.
13. Chester Taylor, Min, RB: Underappreciated, the "Cheetah" averaged 104.9 total yards-per-game. Anticipate 50-plus receptions if Tavaris Jackson starts.
14. Peyton Manning, Ind, QB: Sure he's the elite of the QB class, but he averaged only four points-per-game more than 15th-ranked Vince Young.
15. Terrell Owens, Dal, WR: Led all wideouts with 12 touchdowns. Outside of his rambunctious behavior, he's the best in the game.
16. Joseph Addai, Ind, RB: Prospered for 5.0 yards-per-carry despite a miniscule 13.7 rushes per game. Dominic Rhodes' 3.4 yards-per-carry ineffectiveness should hand over the reigns.
17. Marvin Harrison, Ind, WR: Advancing age hasn't slowed him down as he totaled his eighth straight season of 1,100 yards and 10 or more scores.
18. Willis McGahee, Buf, RB: When Judas Priest Losman rocked for 200 or more yards, Willie Mac averaged 93.6 yards-per-game. Bills need to improve red-zone offense to increase TD totals.
19. Marion Barber III, Dal, RB: The Spring Break case of herpes that never went away for Julius Jones owners – gut feeling, Barber eclipses 250 carries.
20. Chad Johnson, Cin, WR: First Half: 64.4 YPG, 2 TDs. Second Half: 108.1 YPG, 5 TDs. Mr. Show needs to figure out a way to conjure the productive Ocho-Cinco alter-ego on a more routine basis.
21. Edgerrin James, Ari, RB: Desert mirage will significantly boost his career worst 3.4 yards-per-carry if offensive line needs are addressed. Good late second-round value.
22. Deuce McAllister, NO, RB: The four-letter network hype machine gets the pub, but Deuce is a goal-line sub. Quietly he finished 10th among backs with 83.6 total yards-per-game and 10 touchdowns.
23. Laurence Maroney, NE, RB: Would be higher if Dillon was out of the picture. Should see roughly 15-20 carries-per-game next year, but CD is a goal-line gremlin.
24. Carnell Williams, TB, RB: Re-signing of Chris Simms and a patched O-line implies a bargain basement buy.
25. Adrian Peterson, RB: Cream of the rookie crop would look great in Houston or Cleveland. Soon-to-be-nicknamed "The Punisher," he's capable of 1,200 total yards and 5-7 scores, if turf monsters don't bite.
26. Reggie Bush, NO, RB: If Chris Mortensen is at your draft he'll go in the top-five. The media love-child is a topflight PPR play, but as long as Deuce runs loose TDs are the exception not the norm.
27. Marshawn Lynch, RB: Versatile speed demon can take it the distance in a blink of an eye. If he leaves early, the Browns or Jets will beckon. In a favorable situation he's a solid gamble in the early third capable of 1,300 total yards and 4-6 touchdowns.

In an ongoing effort to spread the gospel of the Noise, this segment is for YOU to ridicule my random musings. Oh, and if have any positive contributions, that's cool too.

Nice play on Rattay for Week 16. (5 QB Fantasy points for the championship game.) Vince Young would have been a wiser choice! The "Fantasy Genius" was on a holiday interim I see? You're fired!

Matt, VA

Noise: Thanks for the Donald reference. Yeah, the rat never built up enough rage to break out of his cage. I blame You Tube for zapping my brain cells after watching Justin Timberlake and Andy Samberg prance around in pelvic gift boxes. The leisure-suits, greasy beards and lame get-in-the-mood lyrics reminded me of Color Me Badd. That SNL short rockets to the top of my all-time faves list along with the steroid Olympics and Dana Carvey's ode to "Choppin' Broccoli."

Don't be too hard on yourself. Anyone can lock L.T. as a "flame" every week. You take normally productive players (or generally inconsistent players) and go out on a limb about when they are going to shine or die. There are going to be weeks where things just don't pan out. No one wants to read every week that Peyton is going to tear it up. At least I don't. Any fantasy manager worth their salt knows an easy exploitation when they see one, so why should people expect you to point it out also. Ignore the naysayers! Keep going out on the limb with solid justifications.

Ryan, Greensburg, PA

Noise: Appreciate the pick-me-up Ryan, but, honestly, I revel in the admonishments. It cracks me up how everyone thinks they are an expert, especially in hindsight. As I've always maintained, I'm just an analyst with an opinion, take it or leave it. My convictions are always backed by sound, logical reasoning. People will always muckrake, but it will never sway my firm arguments for limb-reacher plays like Ron Dayne three weeks ago.

In your 12/21 "Noise," you point out the problems at QB this season, then say you should wait on a QB on draft day. I see a contradiction here. Unless you grabbed Peyton Manning, Carson Palmer, or Drew Brees, you've been struggling at QB all season, and Brees was the only one who could be had after the first 2 rounds (and, notably, Brees has died in fantasy playoff time). Waiting until late to get the likes of Jake Delhomme, Trent Green, or Drew Bledsoe went a long way toward tanking your season. For most owners, stealing Manning at the end of Round 1 gave their teams much-needed stability that most of the rest of their league didn't have.

Jeff, Fresno, CA

Noise: Valid counterpunch, my man. However, explain to me how I consistently win leagues with marginal quarterback talent? In my 14-team Y! Sports Blog League this year, against players like you, I rolled through the playoffs with a three-headed QB ferret of Matt Leinart, David Garrard and Jay Cutler. Remember, the drop-off in points between the first-ranked QB and the 20th is fewer than seven points-per-game. Stockpile backs and receivers in the first five-to-six rounds and then aim for middle-of-the road signal callers. Quarterbacks are always a dime a dozen and if you play the matchups, fruits will follow.

Regarding your "experts" poll on WRs: Are you on drugs? T.J. Houshmandzadeh 3rd overall? Over Chad Johnson? Over Terrell Owens? I know you aren't new to this, so what gives? Maybe your male pattern baldness has fashioned your man-crush on a man with flowing locks, but seriously, give me a break. You're stupid

Daniel, Victoria, BC

Noise: Daniel, you've sucked down too many Molsons, eh? To refresh your beer-hazed memory, I ranked Housh at three because of the Champ Bailey factor. With Bailey on Johnson he screamed lame and, to my elatedness, he totaled a meager 32 yards. Meanwhile Housh, who I accurately predicted would receive an increase in targets, tallied nine receptions for 94 yards and a touchdown. Housh had the seventh-best output in Week 16, Owens the 22nd and Ocho-Stanko the 53rd. That one I nailed. If you mail me a life-time supply of Propecia, I'll forgive you for the oversight.

Wow I love it how all you babies come on here and complain about the choices you made. He's human. He makes mistakes. That's why all you guys should set your own freakin' rosters and not rely on someone else. Vick couldn't hit water if he fell out of a boat, and honestly who would start David Garrard? Please! If you actually started Garrard, you deserved to lose!

Vinny, Buffalo, NY

Noise: Hey, it's my cousin Vinny! The irony in all of this is that I started David Garrard and won. In performance league formats his deplorable four turnover day in Week 15 netted 15 fantasy points. Like Vick, rushing yards can eliminate mistakes. By the way, it's always nice to have a Vinny on your side. That is, unless your last name is Testaverde.

I just had another sad way to lose my fantasy Super Bowl. I lost by less than a point with the Bengals' Shayne Graham as my kicker … My heart melted as I watched the ball squirt through the holders hands and wondered if it would hurt me this week … Oh well, there is always next year right?

Marc, MD

Noise: Wow, and that makes my Drew Bennett sob story from 2004 sound like an after school special. After the arrant snap by Brad St. Louis and Kyle Larson's botched hold, it was God's way of punishing the Bengals for their paddy wagon romps. I hear Chris Henry plans to take out his frustrations in a positive way. This time, he'll solicit legal female company with a bottle of Tanqueray.