Fantasy Draft: The Top 25

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The following is an article written by Real Football Services. They are a frequent contributor on newyorkjets.com.

If you haven't had your fantasy draft yet, you are about to.  So we thought we'd end this little pre-draft string of stories with our own Top 25 fantasy rankings.  As expected, the running backs dominated, taking nearly 60 percent of the spots in the first two rounds worth of picks.  Here's a quick rundown:

  1. Shaun Alexander, RB, Seahawks:  Alexander's scoring run and his ability to pile up yards as the workhorse of the offense make him a clear #1 candidate.  But what sets Alexander above the rest is the offense around him.  Matt Hasselbeck can hurt you with all those receiving weapons which makes it hard to key on just the running game.
  1. LaDainian Tomlinson, RB, Chargers:  Yes, with Philip Rivers under center teams will be quick to put eight men in the box and key on Tomlinson.  But his abilities as a receiver make him almost impossible to defend.  Opposing linebackers can't hang with him in the open field, and putting a safety on him leaves Antonio Gates roaming the middle by himself.
  1. Larry Johnson, RB, Chiefs:  We know everybody is all jacked about LJ's nine-game run last year.  He's awesome.  But the offensive line has two new starters at tackle, and Herman Edwards has nearly abandoned the passing attack that gave this unit its balance, and as a result, it's success.  It's exciting to think what Johnson can do over a full 16 game season.  We'd like to see if he can hold up before making him king.
  1. Tiki Barber, RB, Giants:  Here's another guy who really benefits by playing in an explosive offense.  Don't get us wrong, Barber has the speed to gain the corner and get out on the perimeter, he's a very good receiver, and he's tougher between the tackles than he is given credit for.  He seems to be getting better with age.  But with the maturation of Eli Manning, and weapons like Plaxico Burress, Jeremy Shockey, Amani Toomer, and now Sinorice Moss at his disposal, to key on the run is almost committing football suicide.
  1. Ronnie Brown, RB, Dolphins:  Ricky Williams is gone and Brown finally gets a chance to do it all, which he is most capable of doing.  He's got outside speed, good cutback ability, improving receiving skills, and he's a tough runner who can gain yards after initial contact.
  1. Cadillac Williams, RB, Buccaneers:  Williams showed last year that he has all the tools to be a star.  He's an excellent cutback runner who can thrive in Tampa's ball control offense.  He just has to stay healthy.
  1. Edgerrin James, RB, Cardinals:  The term balance keeps coming up.  The Cardinals don't have what we would call the most dominant offensive line in the league, but when Edge is running behind you, you manage to look a little better out there.  James has the speed and vision to make his own yards if he has to, and he will add yet another piece to what is already an explosive passing attack in the desert.  His yards may suffer a little this year, but look for more opportunities and more TD's in the red zone.
  1. Clinton Portis, RB, Redskins:  Portis thrived last year when Washington switched to a zone blocking scheme similar to the one he was part of in Denver.  He has the patience and vision to find the hole and then hits it hard.  He also has a nose for the end zone, but that could change with T.J. Duckett now in the fold.
  1. Steven Jackson, RB, Rams:  New HC Scott Linehan will still operate out of spread formations, but look for the Rams to run out of those sets, giving Jackson loads of room to run.  If he gained over 1,000 yards on just 250 carries last year, imagine what he can do in a balanced attack.
  1. Peyton Manning, QB, Colts:  There is some concern that Manning won't be the same player without Edgerrin James in the backfield, but we say, "nonsense!"  Dominic Rhodes has been a 1,000-yard rusher in this offense, and Joseph Addai will be better than him once he takes over the reins.  Of course they'll miss Edge, but Manning's accuracy, intelligence and football instincts make him the most consistently productive passer in the game.
  1. LaMont Jordan, RB, Raiders:  Jordan did a nice job as a first time starter in a bad offense in 2005.  His versatility as a rusher and a receiver make him a promising fantasy option.  Look for his numbers to improve with Art Shell calling the shots.  The Raiders will still throw the ball, but they will establish the running game every week.
  1. Rudi Johnson, RB, Bengals:  Johnson does his job so quietly in the shadow of Carson Palmer and Chad Johnson that most people, some hard-core football fans included, don't realize that Johnson has put together back-to-back 1,400-yard seasons and scored 24 touchdowns in that time.  If no one else knows…we'll take him.
  1. Steve Smith, WR, Panthers:  He can run the go route, he can work the underneath routes, he can line up in the slot or on the perimeter, he will go in motion, he can leap out of the stadium for jump balls, or he can make plays in the open field.  Every time defenses around the league thought they had him figured out last year, he found a new way to burn them.
  1. Chad Johnson, WR, Bengals:  Johnson is a close second to Smith.  He is an explosive playmaker who isn't afraid to tell you how he's going to beat you, which is every way but up.  Known for his big plays out on the perimeter, he also has the quickness to shake defenders on short to intermediate routes, and isn't afraid to go over the middle.
  1. Torry Holt, WR, Rams:  It seems like he's been around forever, but Holt isn't yet 30 years old.  He has great hands, top end speed, and knows how to get open all over the field.
  1. Willie Parker, RB, Steelers:  Parker showed his speed in the Super Bowl, and he has made his living on the perimeter, but head coach Bill Cowher has said that they will not necessarily look to replace Jerome Bettis, alluding to the fact that Parker could see more balls in the red zone as well.
  1. Willis McGahee, RB, Bills:  He has a load of talent and has trimmed nearly 15 pounds.  He's quicker, and the Bills plan to execute more of a perimeter running game to take advantage of that speed.  McGahee could be a #1 back if he had a quarterback to play with.
  1. Marvin Harrison, WR, Colts:  Harrison has been in the league for 11 years, but he doesn't look like it.  He has shown the ability to adjust his game over that time as well.  Once the deep threat, he started to run underneath off coverage last year when defenders tried to prevent the big play.  He can almost guarantee 80 catches a year, even now.
  1. Larry Fitzgerald, WR, Cardinals:  He has great size, speed, and quickness, and a set of hands to match.  But what may set him apart are the intangibles, including a non-stop work ethic that will result in some big days this fall.  He'll be the primary red zone target.
  1. Anquan Boldin, WR, Cardinals:  Wherever Fitzgerald goes, so goes Boldin.  These two are identical players with comparable skills, and with a running game now in place, and a QB with a strong arm to get them the ball, both should excel this season.
  1. Brian Westbrook, RB, Eagles:  He's among the ultimate all-purpose backs who is just as dangerous as a receiver as he is a runner.  Look for Donovan McNabb to lean on Westbrook early.  If he can stay healthy, he's more than worth the second round pick.
  1. Terrell Owens, WR, Cowboys:  Some will have Owens higher and rightly so.  He'll be on the field, and Dallas has the pieces in place to field a good offensive team.  But after missing so much time, and messing with a tweaked hamstring, we can't put him on the same level as Steve Smith and Chad Johnson.  Maybe by the end of the season, but not now.
  1. Randy Moss, WR, Raiders:  Moss was hurt last year, so being in good health should improve his disappointing numbers of a year ago.  But Aaron Brooks is no better than Kerry Collins, and he could actually be worse.  It's always been hard to figure the Raiders out, and it's always been hard to figure Moss out.  They were made for each other.
  1. Antonio Gates, TE, San Diego:  The departure of Drew Brees hurts, but with Philip Rivers under center, opposing defenses will spend more time focusing on LT, and until the new guy gets more comfortable, Gates will be his go-to receiver.
  1. Jeremy Shockey, TE, Giants:  Shockey is big, fast, has great hands, and is very athletic for a bigger receiver.  He is a key cog in the Giants offense, and as Eli Manning improves, so will Shockey's numbers.
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