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Into the Great Wide Open

With the start of the NFL season less than two weeks away (yay!) there are still a number of position battles that haven't been settled.  Nothing like waiting until the last minute guys!  For fantasy owners, these unknowns have a wider impact than just the positions themselves.

Cleveland QB - Whoever gets named the starter from the group of Derek Anderson, Brady Quinn and Charlie Frye likely won't be a factor for your fantasy league.  That doesn't justify something as stupid as this though.

Opening day QB might be secret
Zac Jackson, Staff Writer
If you're still asking and wondering about the Browns' quarterback situation, you might still be asking and wondering in two weeks.
And because "you" includes the Steelers, Romeo Crennel might be content to keep his thoughts to himself.
A day after he announced Charlie Frye as the starter for this week's preseason game -- at least for now, just this week -- Crennel said there are two possibilities to start the Sept. 9 season opener.
Frye is one. He didn't give up the other. And he apparently doesn't plan to.

That's just freaking wonderful isn't it?   Oh yes, the Steelers entire game plan will be useless if they walk on the field and see Derek Flippin' Anderson under center won't it?  Crennel has no idea what he's doing.

While the QB can be a fantasy sacrifice, the Browns have three quality fantasy targets in WR Braylon Edwards, RB Jamal Lewis and TE Kellen Winslow.  If the starting quarterback is anybody not named "Charlie Frye", then I expect the fantasy value of all three of those guys to go down.   Edwards and Winslow are dependent on the skill of the quarterback for obvious reasons, but Lewis' fantasy value is also highly dependent on him.  The Browns offensive line isn't great anyway so if they don't have a passing game to keep defenses honest Lewis will see a lot of 8 man defensive line formations.  If the Browns don't have a passing game at least as good as last season's, Lewis is only a low end #3 RB.

Oakland QB - I wrote about this earlier but it still bears repeating: Jerry Porter and Zach Miller are NOT sleepers if the Raiders don't have a coherent passing game.  It's possible that Daunte Culpepper's experience will allow him to step in on short notice and run the offense well, but the fact that the Raiders still haven't come out and named him the starter worries me.  Whether Dominic Rhodes is on the field or not won't matter much if opposing defenses only have to worry about stopping the run.

Tennessee RB - This is a major fantasy battle that isn't discussed nearly enough in my opinion, possibly because the gravitation pull of Vince Young sucks all media in towards him.   Here's the latest from the Titans Official Web site.

White preparing to be 'the guy' at running back

NASHVILLE, TN, Aug. 23, 2007 -- Running back LenDale White returned confident as ever after missing all but one practice in 10 days as the Tennessee Titans wrapped up training camp on Wednesday.
By getting back on the field before the Titans (1-1) travel to Buffalo to play the Bills on Friday night, White likely will make his first NFL start.
"God forbid anymore injuries or anything like that, I'm practicing out there. I think Sept. 9th kickoff, I'll be the guy," White said.
Veteran Chris Brown, still listed on the team's unofficial depth chart as the starter, and rookie Chris Henry already have started an exhibition each. The Titans had hoped the competition to replace Travis Henry, a salary cap cut now in Denver, as starting running back would be settled by the end of camp. (emphasis mine)

Yes indeedy, I had hoped the starting running back would be settled by the end of camp too!  Here you have a team with a minimal passing game, a team that MUST run the ball to be successful and they still don't know who the starter will be.   This impacts Vince Young more than people seem to realize; when (not if, when) opposing defenses realize that the only running threat on the field is Young, he's going to have a linebacker in his face all day.  By the end of every game he'll feel like Brian Urlacher's ex-wife.

I've been saying it since May, but White is looking more and more like a great big bust.  Chris Brown should be a solid #3 RB this season, but I've seen fantasy drafts where he was left until the final few rounds.  Don't make the same mistake.