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High Fives: Ready for some football?

Brandon Funston
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Brandon
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Mike
Harmon
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Matt
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Yahoo! Sports' trio of fantasy experts will each offer up, on a regular basis, a look at their top five lists dealing with a variety of topics.

This week's topics: Fantasy football season kicks off with a look at the top 5 players by position, backup plans, comeback kids, worthwhile reaches and the untouchables.

Top 5 fantasy QBs for 2005
Brandon Says: Mike Says: Matt Says:
  1. Peyton Manning, Ind

    This one needs no explanation

  2. Daunte Culpepper, Min
  3. Donovan McNabb, Phi
  4. Trent Green, KC

    One out of every two games in '04 was a 300-yarder

  5. Brett Favre, GB

    He represents peace of mind for the fantasy owner: 12 straight years without missing a game

  1. Peyton Manning, Ind

    With his WRs and the Edge intact, he stands atop this list

  2. Daunte Culpepper, Min

    Moss is gone, but Culpepper played well in his absence during '04

  3. Donovan McNabb, Phi
  4. Brett Favre, GB

    Even with a depleted O-line and possible holdout in Walker, the numbers are always there at the end

  5. Trent Green, KC

    Puts up big numbers year after year, even without a top wide receiver.

  1. Peyton Manning, Ind
  2. Daunte Culpepper, Min

    Career-best passer rating, career-low fumble totals in '04. Will be fine sans Moss

  3. Donovan McNabb, Phi

    Don't forget he essentially took weeks 16 and 17 off. Owens holdout a concern

  4. Trent Green, KC
  5. Carson Palmer, Cin

    Second-year-as-starter leap should propel him into 30-TD territory

Top 5 fantasy RBs for 2005
Brandon Says: Mike Says: Matt Says:
  1. LaDainian Tomlinson, SD
  2. Shaun Alexander, Sea

    Pouting about not winning rush title doesn't play well in real life, but fantasy owners love the 'tude.

  3. Priest Holmes, KC
  4. Edgerrin James, Ind

    With Manning hogging headlines, James' 2,000-plus total yards came with little fanfare

  5. Willis McGahee, Buf
  1. LaDainian Tomlinson, SD

    Scored in 14 of 15 starts last year. It's a great feeling to pencil that in as a team's base

  2. Shaun Alexander, Sea
  3. Priest Holmes, KC

    Was injured before '03 and told everyone to watch and see (he scored 27 touchdowns). I won't doubt him again.

  4. Willis McGahee, Buf
  5. Jamal Lewis, Bal

    After an event-filled 2004 season and his prison stay, Lewis has some things to prove in 2005.

  1. LaDainian Tomlinson, SD

    Fantasy matchup against Tomlinson a good excuse to schedule a Sunday Home Depot run

  2. Shaun Alexander, Sea

    Durable and consistent: At least 100 total yards or a TD in 29 of last 35

  3. Willis McGahee, Buf
  4. Priest Holmes, KC
  5. Kevin Jones, Det

    Averaged 5.3 per carry in second half. Opponents must respect the pass

Top 5 fantasy WRs for 2005
Brandon Says: Mike Says: Matt Says:
  1. Randy Moss, Oak
  2. Marvin Harrison, Ind

    Write it in pen: 1,300 yards and 13 TDs

  3. Torry Holt, StL
  4. Chad Johnson, Cin

    His passion reminds me of my all-time favorite, Michael "The Playmaker" Irvin

  5. Terrell Owens, Phi

    He'd be No. 2 on my list if he and Drew Rosenhaus weren't putting on this Barnum & Bailey-esque show

  1. Randy Moss, Oak

    No. 1 jersey seller joins another potent offense and has something to prove.

  2. Terrell Owens, Phi

    The holdout talk causes some anxiety, but at the end of the day, he's still tough to pin down

  3. Marvin Harrison, Ind
  4. Chad Johnson, Cin

    Palmer will take another big step forward this year. I look for Johnson to top his previous bests

  5. Torry Holt, StL
  1. Randy Moss, Oak

    Perfect fit for Norv Turner's system if Collins can deliver the ball

  2. Marvin Harrison, Ind
  3. Chad Johnson, Cin

    In last 3 games w/Palmer at the helm: 25 rec, 358 yds, 4 TDs

  4. Javon Walker, GB
  5. Terrell Owens, Phi

    Instantly jumps to No. 2 on this list when/if he ends holdout

Top 5 fantasy TEs for 2005
Brandon Says: Mike Says: Matt Says:
  1. Tony Gonzalez, KC

    Gonzo and Gates deserve to come off the draft board one right after the other

  2. Antonio Gates, SD
  3. Jason Witten, Dal

    Witten joins Bavaro and Coates as another of Parcells' TE masterpieces

  4. Dallas Clark, Ind

    With Pollard out of the picture, I see Clark as this season's Jason Witten

  5. Todd Heap, Bal
  1. Tony Gonzalez, KC

    Still the king: Gonzo posted his best yardage total of his career in '04

  2. Antonio Gates, SD
  3. Jason Witten, Dal

    He had 12 games with four or more catches in '04. Drew Bledsoe will turn to him early and often

  4. Jeremy Shockey, NYG
  5. Dallas Clark, Ind

    Pollard is gone, and Manning loves to hit his TEs. Five touchdowns in '05 was just the beginning

  1. Antonio Gates, SD

    Team didn't upgrade significantly at wideout; so Gates is still the go-to guy in the red zone

  2. Tony Gonzalez, KC
  3. Todd Heap, Bal

    Recovery from shoulder surgery key to returning to 2002 form

  4. Jason Witten, Dal

    Gaudy 2004 yardage totals may prompt some owners to reach too soon

  5. Alge Crumpler, Atl
Top 5 fantasy kickers for 2005
Brandon Says: Mike Says: Matt Says:
  1. Mike Vanderjagt, Ind

    A slightly less efficient Colts offense in '05 would be a boon for Vanderjagt

  2. Adam Vinatieri, NE

    Cult hero always goes much earlier than a kicker should in drafts

  3. David Akers, Phi
  4. Sebastian Janikowski, Oak

    Moss and Jordan will help produce more scoring chances than in '04

  5. Josh Brown, Sea

    Continuity of Seattle's offense should yield more opportunities in '05

  1. Adam Viantieri, NE

    Led all kickers in FGs made last year. He can thank an efficient Pats offense

  2. David Akers, Phi
  3. Mike Vanderjagt, Ind

    The Colts can't be as efficient as last year, can they?

  4. Jason Elam, Den
  5. Matt Stover, Bal

    Improved offense and dominating D mean many opportunities in '05

  1. Adam Vinatieri, NE
  2. Mike Vanderjagt, Ind

    Career-low 25 attempts in 2004 had to be a fluke. Right?

  3. Jason Elam, Den
  4. Shayne Graham, Cin

    Was as good as anyone in Weeks 7-13 last season

  5. Sebastian Janikowski, Oak

    Big leg and doesn't get enough credit for accuracy. Oakland "O" will be improved

Top 5 fantasy defenses for 2005
Brandon Says: Mike Says: Matt Says:
  1. Baltimore Ravens

    More than Lewis: Reed, Rolle, McAllister and Deion is a sick secondary

  2. New England Patriots

    Rodney Harrison brings Ray Lewis-type nastiness to the defense

  3. Buffalo Bills
  4. Pittsburgh Steelers
  5. Carolina Panthers

    Panthers piled up takeaways in second half of '04

  1. Baltimore Ravens

    Ravens perennially rank near the top of all categories and always add to the TD total

  2. New York Jets

    Stingy defense with budding star in Jonathan Vilma; Ball control offense will keep them fresh

  3. New England Patriots
  4. Philadelphia Eagles
  5. Buffalo Bills

    Lost in how bad the first half was for the Bills offense in '04 was how well the defense performed.

  1. Buffalo Bills
  2. Baltimore Ravens

    Deion's return is key to remaining among elite … Just kidding

  3. Carolina Panthers
  4. Pittsburgh Steelers

    Consistent play from secondary a must for repeat of 2004 success

  5. New England Patriots

    Already thin a year ago, defense dealing with loss of Bruschi and Law

Top 5 backups that should be on the fantasy radar for 2005
Brandon Says: Mike Says: Matt Says:
  1. Larry Johnson, KC

    If you draft Holmes, securing LJ later is an absolute must

  2. Marshall Faulk, StL

    Like (Larry Johnson) above, Steven Jackson owners can achieve peace of mind by drafting Faulk

  3. Travis Henry, Buf

    Technically a backup, he's sure to be traded to a place where he'll play

  4. Mewelde Moore, Min

    It's a leap of faith to think Michael Bennett can shoulder a 16-game load

  5. LaBrandon Toefield, Jac

    After three straight mostly injury-free seasons, Fred Taylor's knee isn't looking so good

  1. Larry Johnson, KC
  2. Mewelde Moore, Min

    "The Whiz" is out for the year and Bennett is seemingly always banged up

  3. Jeff Garcia, Det

    Three big wideouts, Kevin Jones and Marcus Pollard. If Harrington falters …

  4. Derrick Blaylock, NYJ
  5. Ricky Williams, Mia

    Will factor into the offense to keep Ronnie Brown from breaking down

  1. Larry Johnson, KC

    Needed only six games (9 TDs) to transform from laughing stock to must-draft backup

  2. Correll Buckhalter, Phi

    Trying to rebound from 2003 knee injury; could be Philly's top goal-line option

  3. Jerome Bettis, Pit
  4. Billy Volek, Ten

    Volek-to-Bennett connection was simply electric in 2004; McNair is on his last legs

  5. Travis Henry, Buf
Top 5 bounce-back players for 2005
Brandon Says: Mike Says: Matt Says:
  1. Laveranues Coles, NYJ

    Gained 1,264 yards the last time he was teamed with Pennington (2002)

  2. Chad Pennington, NYJ

    He's smart. He makes quick decisions. He's accurate. Most importantly, he's healthy

  3. Anquan Boldin, Ari

    He piled up the catches when he returned from injury in '04. But some offseason rest means he'll make more happen with those looks in '05

  4. Deuce McAllister, NO

    Run will be emphasized in '05. Don't be surprised if Deuce gains 400 more yards and a half dozen more TDs than '04

  5. Eric Moulds, Buf
  1. Chad Pennington, NYJ

    Overall totals in '04 weren't great, but he'll be a regular on the leaderboard in '05.

  2. Plaxico Burress, NYG

    He was about the only thing that didn't go right for the Steelers last year.

  3. Clinton Portis, Was

    With Jansen back and another year under Gibbs, the touchdowns will return

  4. Anquan Boldin, Ari

    He'll have a big year alongside Larry Fitzgerald and revamped Cardinals offense

  5. Koren Robinson, FA

    A dangerous receiver if he ends up in the right situation and wants to play

  1. Clinton Portis, Was

    Jerseygate is over. How long before fantasy owners chase him down to recoup their 2004 league fees?

  2. Chris Chambers, Mia

    QB stability, legitimate running attack will allow Chambers to recover from last year's step back

  3. Kerry Collins, Oak

    Add Moss and healthy Porter to an improved running attack and a career-year is a possibility

  4. Donte' Stallworth, NO

    Saints are counting on him for 80+ receptions – double his rookie total when he had eight TDs

  5. Joey Harrington, Det

    Inconsistency was his biggest foe in '04. Deck is stacked in his favor in 2005

Top 5 players you'll reach to attain on Draft Day
Brandon Says: Mike Says: Matt Says:
  1. Steven Jackson, StL

    Defenses will no longer want to deal with his power/speed combo come the fourth quarter

  2. Julius Jones, Dal

    In the span of his seven starts, no other NFL RB had more carries

  3. Dallas Clark, Ind

    LBs are helpless against his speed when he catches the ball in the open field

  4. Anquan Boldin, Ari

    I see Boldin playing a major role in leading a resurgent Arizona offense

  5. Hines Ward, Pit

    Big Ben will be free to throw more and, with Burress gone, he'll only have eyes for Ward

  1. Kyle Boller, Bal

    Lewis and Todd Heap are back for a full season, and Baltimore added Derrick Mason and Mark Clayton.

  2. LaMont Jordan, Oak

    With a stellar passing game in tow, he should be able to run wild in Oakland

  3. Joe Jurevicius, Sea

    Injuries are behind him and he'll likely start opposite Darrell Jackson in Seattle

  4. Mike Williams, Det

    Rookie WRs are a gamble, but he's got something to prove

  5. Minnesota defense

    Upgrades all around and an offense that will score and put them into attack mode

  1. Kevin Jones, Det

    Punishing runner with unlimited upside. My second-round pick regardless of where I sit

  2. Jake Delhomme, Car

    Last 10: 22 TDs/5 INTs without his top target Steve Smith. Great production for a late rounder

  3. J.J. Arrington, Ari

    Arizona loves this kid, who could develop into the next Robert Smith

  4. Larry Johnson, KC

    Insurance if you have Priest; great trade value if you don't

  5. Troy Williamson, Min

    A great "what the heck" pick in the middle rounds, this rookie is the heir apparent to Randy Moss

Top 5 players you'll look to avoid on Draft Day
Brandon Says: Mike Says: Matt Says:
  1. Terrell Owens, Phi

    I respect his ability, but I prefer to win with players that I like

  2. Chris Brown, Ten

    Is gaining a "soft" tag. Titans' interest in Henry is revealing

  3. Michael Vick, Atl

    Fantasy's ultimate roller-coaster ride. I prefer to not have one player dictate whether I win or lose

  4. Fred Taylor, Jac

    Just two TDs in '04. And that knee is an ulcer-inducer for fantasy owners

  5. Duce Staley, Pit

    Just not worth where you'd have to pick him given that he'll set the table again for Bettis

  1. Brian Westbrook, Phi

    Correll Buckhalter and Ryan Moats will eat into his numbers.

  2. Fred Taylor, Jac

    Reports on Freddy's knee aren't good. I'd rather take a flier on LaBrandon Toefield late

  3. DeShaun Foster, Car

    Injury history, the presence of Eric Shelton and return of Stephen Davis smells like a committee is brewing.

  4. Michael Vick, Atl

    Love the athleticism and the highlight-reel plays, but not enamored with the fantasy potential. I'll let others sweat it out each week

  5. Reuben Droughns, Cle

    His big year in Denver will boost his draft stock but, as of today, he's No. 3 behind Lee Suggs and William Green.

  1. Terrell Owens, Phi

    Holdout a concern, but mostly because I don't want to root for him for four months

  2. Muhsin Muhammad, Chi

    Bears have had only one 10-touchdown receiver since 1970

  3. Michael Bennett, Min

    Even with Smith suspended, will still lose points to Moe Williams (goal line) and Mewelde Moore (3rd Down)

  4. Kevan Barlow, SF

    Rebuilding Niners may just pair rookie RB Frank Gore with Alex Smith and build for the future

  5. Michael Vick, Atl

    Note to self: Resist the temptation

Reader response to last week's High Fives
How could you leave Dale Murphy off the list "Top 5 Mr. (insert MLB team name here) players since 1970?" It is a travesty. He was the entire Braves organization for more than a decade. In nearly 2,200 games over 18 seasons (mostly with the Atlanta Braves), this seven-time All-Star, five-time Gold Glove winner and two-time NL MVP winner amassed 398 home runs, 1,299 RBIs and more than 2,000 hits. A role model on and off the field, Murphy played the game how it's supposed to be played – with heart and class. – Jay, Auburn, AL


Regarding your "Top 5 Mr. (insert MLB team here) players since 1970," how could you miss Mr. Phillies (and the best 3B ever) Mike Schmidt? I know he wasn't always loved (he tended to be a bit reclusive at times), but he's one of the few bright spots in a long, bad team history. And, secondly, Jay Buhner and Edgar Martinez get nods over Schmidtty? That's just wrong. – Matt, Nyack, NY


Just want to throw kudos out for Garret Anderson. After the many great players that have played for the Angels (Fregosi, Carew, Ryan, Downing) they finally have a true candidate for a future "Top 5 Mr." – Mike, Biloxi, MS


Regarding "Top 5 early-season disappointments who will remain in a funk," how can Mike Harmon say that J.D. Drew is in a terrible slump that he won't come out of? Yeah, he had a bad start, but if you take out the opening week, when he had zero hits in his first 25 at-bats, his batting average is sitting at .317, and his 10 HRs, 35 runs, 28 RBIs and 36 walks are definitely not bad. – Andy, Arizona


Sammy Sosa as Pedro Cerrano from Major League? Please! Cerrano's English was much better … – Trevor, Louisville, NE


I've got to give props to Matt Romig this (past) week for his casting of Alex Rodriguez as Roger Dorn. Selecting a greedy player who eventually buys the team, as Dorn does, was right on point … It's so rare to see such a talented baseball player have so little success with the teams he's on. … Great job, Romig. – Pat, Staten Island, NY


Matt, picking Barry Zito to play the role of Pedro Cerrano may have been the dumbest thing I've ever read while avoiding my day job. How did you come to the conclusion that Zito should be Cerrano? My guess is it's Zito's striking resemblance to a voodoo-believing Cuban who plays right field (in case you were wondering, I'm laying on some pretty thick sarcasm). At least Brandon and Mike picked Latin right fielders who happen to be crazy. – Brian, Chantilly, VA


Uhh, Romig, maybe you didn't quite 'get' the point for casting your own guys for roles in Major League – most notable was your Barry Zito/Pedro Cerrano substitution. Maybe you should go back and watch the movie one more time. – DJ, Whistler, British Columbia


A.J. Pierzynski has to be Jake Taylor. I'd have either David Ortiz or Manny Ramirez play Cerrano, and create a new role for Johnny Damon. Phil Nevin is the only one I can possibly see playing Roger Dorn – he belly-aches over everything. I can't think of a current player to play Willie Mays Hayes – I would find Chuck Carr's number on the speed- dial. "Chuckie hacks on 3-0" is a line that has to be in the movie. Also, I was very impressed that two of the three came up with Derrick Turnbow to play Rick Vaughn, although John Rocker would be the ultimate for that role. – Kurt, Milwaukee, WI