Fantasy Football: Lessons Learned in 2006

Chargers RB LaDainian Tomlinson (AP photo)

Saints QB Drew Brees (AP photo)

Colts WR Marvin Harrison (AP photo)

2006 was a strange year for fantasy football. Aside from LaDainian Tomlinson, there were only three other RBs in the top ten. There were five QBs, and Bears K Robbie Gould even landed there. Top receiver Marvin Harrison was way, way down the list....in one of my leagues he was 36th! So before you grab that fantasy football magazine in June of 2007, let's see what you could have learned from 2006......

1. LT Is the MAN

With 2,323 total yards from scrimmage and 33 touchdowns rushing, receiving and passing, there was no one even close to San Diego's LaDaininan Tomlinson in 2006. And chances are if you had him as your primary running back, you won your league's title or at least made the playoffs.

2. It Doesn't Matter To Drew Brees Where He Plays

Whether it's San Diego, New Orleans, or some corn field in between, Saints QB Drew Brees is so talented that he is going to put up numbers. In 2006 Brees pleased his coach, teammates, Saints fans and fantasy owners with his numbers. In particular, those fantasy GMs who took a chance on Brees were rewarded with 4,424 passing yards and 26 touchdowns.

3. Drafting a Raider is Not Smart

The Raiders scored only 168 points in '06. That's about 10 points per game. So if you drafted RB Lamont Jordan, QB Aaron Brooks, or WR Randy Moss, you were disappointed.

4. Carson Palmer Can Take a Hit

After the vicious hit Bengals QB Carson Palmer took in the 2005 playoff game against the Steelers in which he blew out his knee, there was the very legitimate question of whether or not he would return to be a fantasy football force in 2006. Not only did Palmer have a good season by his own standards, but he threw for over 4,000 yards with 28 touchdown passes.

5. Rex Grossman Is Consistently Inconsistent

Chances are, you didn't draft Bears QB Rex Grossman but added him early in the season when he was throwing those touchdown bombs to Bernard Berrian. Grossman had 3,197 yards passing and 23 touchdowns, but also had 20 interceptions. In one game against Detroit, Rex had 289 yards with 4 TDs and no interceptions, and had two other games with at least 3 TDs. But he also had four games with no touchdowns and at least 3 interceptions. That spells INCONSISTENT.

6. The Running Back By Committee Isn't Always Fantasy Taboo

If you had Jaguars rookie RB Maurice Jones-Drew, Patriots rookie RB Laurence Maroney or Colts rookie RB Joseph Addai, chances are you were happy with their fantasy output even though all of them split time. Drew in particular helped many fantasy owners to their title, as he finished in spectacular fashion in weeks 14-16, including a 166-yard, 2 touchdown performance against the Colts.

7. Steve Smith Should Always Be On Your Radar

Panthers WR Steve Smith returned from missing the entire 2004 season with an injury, to post a remarkable season in 2005, then followed that up with a stellar 2006 as well. Even with bruised ribs and random stomach ailments, Smith always showed up on Sunday and produced numbers. And if you need proof of his value, look at QB Jake Delhomme's stats with and without Smith in the lineup.

8. You Can Always Pick Up a Stud Kicker

For those of you who wasted an early draft pick on a kicker, I would bet that most of you did not use Chargers K Nate Kaeding or Bears K Robbie Gould with that pick. And those two were 1-2 in scoring. You hear this all the time but it bears repeating--don't draft a kicker until the last round.

9. The Colts Passing Game Yields Fantasy Gold

Colts QB Peyton Manning has a "laser, rocket arm." He also is consistently the top QB picked in fantasy drafts, because he produces numbers every year. In 2006 Manning was the top fantasy points producer for QBs. 4,397 yards passing with 31 touchdowns and 9 interceptions will do that. But more than that, WR Marvin Harrison was ranked #1 in fantasy output, and WR Reggie Wayne was #3. Each topped 1,300 yards receiving and had 21 touchdowns between them.

10. Frank Gore Has Earned Top Draft Status in 2007

Niners RB Frank Gore was removed from the shadow of Kevan Barlow, who now runs for the NY Jets. And he promptly delivered fantasy points, to the tune of over 2,000 yards rushing and receiving combined and 9 total TDs. This dude is going to be a first round pick next in 2007.

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