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DL: I wonder if Grant Wistrom is a bit low in the rankings. He played in eight games last season. That was a top-10 pace.Marques Douglas has finished 24th and 26th the past two years. He moved teams, but to put him lower than #62 (where my printoff cuts off) seems odd to me.LB: Vilma at #4 would be great for me, but seems a bit high somehow.Cowart is a bold choice at #14 - why so high?Andra Davis at #16 surprised me - that's pretty high for a defense we haven't seen yet.Spikes all the way down at 20. Other than Pat Williams leaving, what changed to make Spikes fall this far?Witherspoon at #30... why so low?The lack of Tennessee MLBs - does that mean they'll split time and ruin the value of each other?Danny Clark and Travian Smith are both listed as WLBs for Oakland.DB: Sean Taylor at #5 would be great for me, but it's pretty high.Darren Sharper seems low. He had four games where he was out or only in as a nickel/dime guy due to injury, but finished 14th last season. New team, and a year older, but I'd think he's higher than 18.For all the talk of cover-2 corners being underrated, they aren't high in the rankings. Barber at 11, Winfield at 22 are the only two CBs in the top 30 for DBs. I take it this is a big difference of opinion within the staff.

 
I'll add one: Mike RuckerIs it being assumed he won't return to '02-'03 form? I thought a healthy Rucker and Jenkins would = good fantasy production for Rucker. The #27 DL just seemed a bit low.

 
This cheatsheet ranking tends to fall much more in line with mine, vs. the staff's combined rankings. There will always be those players who have both up and downside potential, and it's usually those players that tend to jump out, me thinks.

Cowart is one of those players. He has the potentail as Minny's MLB to blow up this year. That defense should funnel RB's to the MLB. While Cowart has lost a step, he is still very capable of being a powerful run stopper in the middle. I consider him a quasi-sleeper pick, because few have him ranked very highly. I picked him up in something near the 25th round of an IDP redraft. Yes, I think he can be a top 20 LB this year. He could have an outside chance of breaking the top ten. An awful lot of things would have to go right for that to happen though.

Vilma is another high upside guy. He only started 14 games last year, as a rookie, but still ended the season as the 20th LB. He can only get better. I see him as a lock for top ten, with a very good chance at top five. He can cover sideline to sideline and has a nose for the ball and ball carriers. He will not over persue this year as much as he did last year. The comparisons to Ray Lewis are not far fetched.

Some things that jumped out at me were:

Trotter- 13th seems mighty high for an old LB coming off a bad year. He wasn't even in the top 60 last year, and while he was plaqued with injuries, I don't see that sort of bounce back.

Greenwood(30) and Wong(23)- Wong may not even hold onto the ILB spot in Houston, he may still be moved to the outside. I would swap these two in terms of projections, even if Wong does stay on the inside.

Hartwell(24)- here is a guy that could blow up, leaving the Ravens 3-4 behind him, and playing his natural position of MLB in Atlanta's 4-3. I think he has a shot of being near the top ten.

DT's- Jeff Zgonina(78) vs. DeWayne Robertson(79)- Robertson enters his third year with all the earmarks of a future pro bowler. Zgonina is 35 years old and would not even be a starter if Bowens (another Miami DL fossil) was healthy enough to play. Zgonina may be fine where he is, but Robertson is way, way to low.

I would have to agree, the hype about cover 2 corners does not reflect in these rankings at all. That may be more philosophical than anything else. Having said that, there are very few corners in the NFL that have any legacy of consistancy in terms of FF. Winfield, the Buffalo corners, and a bare handful of others have proven thier worth over several years. Witherspoon does seem a bit low, but by and large, I have very few conflicts with Mr. Norton's rankings. I think it's a great cheatsheet. :thumbup:

 
Trotter- 13th seems mighty high for an old LB coming off a bad year. He wasn't even in the top 60 last year, and while he was plaqued with injuries, I don't see that sort of bounce back.
Thanks for the feedback guys. I'm sure Norton will appreciate it.I just had to respond to the comment above.Trotter was a BEAST after taking over the starting MLB job last year. These were his solo tackle numbers since taking over as the starter, including the postseason (I left out the two meaningless games the Eagles played where they rested most of their starters): 8, 3, 6, 8, 7, 8, 5, 9, 4, 5, 8, 4 = 76 solos in 12 games. Don't make the mistake of relying solely on end of year rankings with him as his situation changed drastically halfway through the year. Any LB with a chance to put up 100 solo tackles is going to be a valuable fantasy commodity. Also, Trotter has a proven history that many other players don't - he compiled 90+ solo tackles in 4 of 5 seasons from 1999 to 2003, and the 4 games he missed in 2002 b/c of a torn ACL were the only games he's missed since his rookie year. He's also only 28 years old. Hardly what I'd consider an "old" LB, although it does seem that way since he's been around for so long. As a comparison, he's 2 years younger than Ray Lewis and just 1 year older than Brian Urlacher.
 
Yup, going into his eigth season, I did think Trotter was about 30, and I see him as a sloid FF LB, but at 13, compared to my list, he's high. I have Hartwell, Morgan (healthy) Arrington, Sharper, and Spikes and in front of him. I've got him right next to Farrior and Greenwood. One reason I'm wary of him is will they move him outside again? I also tend to look at my rankings from a dynasty viewpoint, so even at 28, Trotter has a lot of miles on him, not to mention a major knee surgery. I'd rather take a Barnett or a Vilma over Ray Lewis. I'm not sure why you mentioned that J Norton would appreciate your comments..... did I come across antagonistically? I made it pretty clear that this cheatsheet is closer to my rankings than the staff concesus was. I think you guys are getting a little shell shocked.

 
One reason I'm wary of him is will they move him outside again?
Trotter is a pure MLB and always has been. He doesn't really have the speed to play outside, and doesn't play in most obvious passing situations because of that. But, he's such a phenomenal run defender that he puts up great stats despite not being an everydown LB.
I'm not sure why you mentioned that J Norton would appreciate your comments..... did I come across antagonistically? I made it pretty clear that this cheatsheet is closer to my rankings than the staff concesus was. I think you guys are getting a little shell shocked.
:lmao: no, seriously. any feedback is appreciated. that's all I meant. it's not like we want to put something out there and have nobody read it. the fact that you guys took time to offer your thoughts is always appreciated, and can help all of us improve our rankings/projections.it's a message board, so if this stuff facilitates discussion on some players, we all can learn from each other.
 
I'll add one: Mike RuckerIs it being assumed he won't return to '02-'03 form? I thought a healthy Rucker and Jenkins would = good fantasy production for Rucker. The #27 DL just seemed a bit low.
he was just so brutal last year that I'm not sure what to make of him. was it all Jenkins? perhaps. But, Peppers was on fire last year and drawing all the attention, and Rucker was going through games often not even getting more than a single tackle. I hope he can bounce back, but he was one of the biggest disappointments of 2004, and I don't think the loss of Jenkins explains it all.I haven't heard of Rucker playing with some hidden injury last year, so it's hard to make much sense of how poorly he played.
 
I'll add one: Mike Rucker

Is it being assumed he won't return to '02-'03 form? I thought a healthy Rucker and Jenkins would = good fantasy production for Rucker. The #27 DL just seemed a bit low.
he was just so brutal last year that I'm not sure what to make of him. was it all Jenkins? perhaps. But, Peppers was on fire last year and drawing all the attention, and Rucker was going through games often not even getting more than a single tackle. I hope he can bounce back, but he was one of the biggest disappointments of 2004, and I don't think the loss of Jenkins explains it all.I haven't heard of Rucker playing with some hidden injury last year, so it's hard to make much sense of how poorly he played.
Thanks for the reply, Aaron. I was actually getting the staff rankings mixed up w/ Norton's cheatsheet.Norton has Rucker as the #19 DL, the staff rankings have him at #36 now. I guess opinions vary pretty widely on him. I tend to lean towards Norton's side, but then again, I'm a Rucker owner :D .

 
I haven't heard of Rucker playing with some hidden injury last year, so it's hard to make much sense of how poorly he played.

Rucker underwent tests midseason for an irregular heartbeat. Although it's an apples to oranges in a way, depending on the seriousness of the problem, a reasonable comparison could be Michael Sinclair's near total drop in production after being diagnosed with diabetes some years back. I never heard what the specific problem was, or if affected Rucker's mindset.

My feeling would be that it's a combination of health issues (he's got crappy ankles as well) and the loss of Jenkins. Rucker's production seems to correlate much more strongly with Jenkins than Peppers, which is unfortunate because various reports form Carolina are lambasting Jenkins for becoming as valuable as a stalk of broccoli since his big payday.

Rucker is a moderate risk this year. Depending on your league, you might be able to get him cheaply by draft or trade. If you hear better things about Jenkins come camp, make a run at him.

And for the record, I'm one of Norton's biggest defenders. He combines some very valuable qualities - knowing the intracacies of an NFL defense and how a given coordinator will use a guy, understanding how to project college talent to the pros, and a willingness to stick his neck out. And he's got an awful long track record of being, in my mind, the best in the business.

 
In case it's not clear, this thread was just to give my feedback and hopefully hear some of Norton's reasoning, since I know he has a better feel for stuff than I do. This isn't a post saying he's off base with the rankings.

 
Aaron, you did me a favor. I decided to revisit my LB rankings after this discussion of Trotter. I still have Trotter too high. I took a look at LB scoring in my IDP league at MFL (pretty standard IDP scoring) and here is what I found. Using only week 8 through 15, I looked at several LB's, including Trotter who was a at his statistical best last year during this time. So, this puts him in as positive a light as possible. I was surprised at what I found. Witherspoon-......148.5Spikes-...............129.5Pierce-................117.0Farrior-...............113.0M. Washington-....108.0 Trotter-.................95.0Quarles-................89.5 (one less game due to a bye in week 8)So, even when using Trotter's best statistical weeks, he looks like a solid, but pedestrian LB, right there with guys like Quarles. I'll be moving him out of my top 25 and well into my third tier of LB's. Even when Pierce replaced Trotter as the Redskins MLB, which was a new position for him, his numbers match up with what Trotter had the previous year. My gut feel told me Trotter's best days are behind him, and this pretty much solidifies my opinion. At his best, he is ordinary. I think his ranking of 13 is more reputation based than analysis based.

 
So, even when using Trotter's best statistical weeks, he looks like a solid, but pedestrian LB, right there with guys like Quarles. I'll be moving him out of my top 25 and well into my third tier of LB's. Even when Pierce replaced Trotter as the Redskins MLB, which was a new position for him, his numbers match up with what Trotter had the previous year. My gut feel told me Trotter's best days are behind him, and this pretty much solidifies my opinion.
The Eagles rested all their starters at the end of the season. Are you counting those games?Anyway, you gotta trust your gut. Personally, I'd be pretty happy with Trotter as a LB2 on any of my teams.What is your scoring system?
At his best, he is ordinary. I think his ranking of 13 is more reputation based than analysis based.
:confused: I gave you an analysis above that explains why he would be ranked that highly. Project his performance from last season over a full season and he winds up with 100 solo tackles. He also has 90+ solo tackles in 4 of the past 6 seasons. He's a proven performer who is a perfect fit for the Eagles defensive system.As for him being ordinary at best, the guy made the Pro Bowl last year despite only starting half the season.
 
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This is my league's IDP scoring system: Tackle - 2 Asst tackle - 1 Sack - 3 Fumble recovery - 2 Forced Fumble - 3 Interception - 3Safety - 3 Pass defended - 1.5 Defensive TD - 6 I used ONLY the stats from week 8 through 15. I did not use anything from the last two games of the season. Just these 8 games. During those 8 games, Trotter had 45 solo tackles, 4 assists and one sack. He started all of those games. So, that is a half season. His lack of production in areas other than solo tackles really drag him down. There is a two point discrepency between the NFL.com stats and the MFL scoring...... MFL has him at 95 points, while totaling points from the NFL stats have him at 97 points, but that is hardly skewing the data. So, if I double his numbers up to 194 for the year, he lands at #29 in this scoring system. And again, this is looking at him in the best light possible, with serious benefit of the doubt. It's funny how often gut feel is right. The more I look at Trotter, the less I like him. I guess that is why he jumped out at me. I will probably rank him around 30 or so. I do think he can improve in assists and sacks at least a little bit. He is about 40 points out of making my top 15. I don't blindly use last year's stats.... I have Hartwell ranked pretty high, and that isn't because of his numbers last year. I have other LB's that I project for higher point accumulation next year too. But let me repeat, less it gets lost in this discussion, I think Mr Norton's LB rankings are on target. There will always be people who rank players differently, thank goodness.

 
well, Trotter is currently 20th on my rankings and it would be hard for me to drop more than 1 or 2 guys below him. I think he'd make a decent LB2 and a great LB3 in your scoring system.His assist numbers were really low last year and I guess that hurts quite a bit in your system. Not sure what the reason is for that.Actually, I just looked at Norton's projections for him this year:96 solos, 21 assists, 2 sacks, 2 FF, 2 FR, 1 INT, 6 PDI'd project almost the exact same season from him and think those numbers are very reasonable. If he had a year like that, where would he wind up in your league based on 2004 rankings?

 
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Those number would definitely move him up quite a bit. Up to around 14, in fact. The lack of assists last year does seem wierd, doesn't it? If he can improve on his numbers other than solo tackles, yeah, I agree he becomes a solid #2 LB. While those stat projections don't look unreasonable at all, I think Trotter comes with some question marks. Across the board, I have him a bit lower, which cumulatively drops him down fairly significantly. I don't project a D touchdown, I have him at more like 90 solos and 15 assists, and no INT's. FF's and FR's are near impossible to predict, unless a particular player has shown a proficiency at it, and I tend to ignore those two categories due to the unpredictable nature of those stats. After some additional massaging, I have Trotter at 24 now. I think this is the best part of projections and rankings, they cause one to re-evaluate thier own, as I have here. Maybe I'll take my turn in the barrell, and post my LB rankings! :bag: Um.... maybe not! lol!

 
DL: I wonder if Grant Wistrom is a bit low in the rankings. He played in eight games last season. That was a top-10 pace.

Marques Douglas has finished 24th and 26th the past two years. He moved teams, but to put him lower than #62 (where my printoff cuts off) seems odd to me.

LB: Vilma at #4 would be great for me, but seems a bit high somehow.

Cowart is a bold choice at #14 - why so high?

Andra Davis at #16 surprised me - that's pretty high for a defense we haven't seen yet.

Spikes all the way down at 20. Other than Pat Williams leaving, what changed to make Spikes fall this far?

Witherspoon at #30... why so low?

The lack of Tennessee MLBs - does that mean they'll split time and ruin the value of each other?

Danny Clark and Travian Smith are both listed as WLBs for Oakland.

DB: Sean Taylor at #5 would be great for me, but it's pretty high.

Darren Sharper seems low. He had four games where he was out or only in as a nickel/dime guy due to injury, but finished 14th last season. New team, and a year older, but I'd think he's higher than 18.

For all the talk of cover-2 corners being underrated, they aren't high in the rankings. Barber at 11, Winfield at 22 are the only two CBs in the top 30 for DBs. I take it this is a big difference of opinion within the staff.
I put a lot of weight on consistency when I do cheat sheets. That's why I stress to everyone on here that projections and ranking are as different as apples and oranges.Let me touch on some of your questions. I am a big Wistrom fan. When the guy is on his game he's a 50 tackle, 10 sack player. The problem is he can't stay healthy. He hasn't missed a lot of games over the past 3 seasons but he's played gimpy often. In his last 40 fames he managed just 15.5 sacks.

Marques Douglas is currently not even listed as a starter. I do believe he will eventually claim one of thus jobs but the SF defense is a mystery at this point and thus so is Douglas. If/when he becomes a starter he'll move up significantly but still not inside the top 40. There is just to much risk until we see what is going to happen there.

I believe Vilma is the next Ray Lewis in fantasy terms. The kid does it all, tackle production, sacks, interceptions. He plays every down like its his last, AND he's very consistent. Its just tough to beat a guy like that. At the very worst he is a very good #1 starter.

I've had Cowart on my teams for several years and even sat on him through last years tribulations in a couple of dynasty leagues because I knew his day would come again. He's a very good football player in an excellent situation. He plays every down and makes plays all over the field. He posted 187 solo tackles in 31 games as the Jets starter in '02 and '03 after coming off an Achilles injury in '01. and had 88 tackles, 5.5 sacks and 2 picks in just 12 games for the Bills in '00 before the injury. He's an injury risk but the rewards could be huge if he can stay on the field.

Its true we haven't seen the Browns defense yet but have you looked at their roster... Who else is going to make tackles besides Davis and the safeties? He had 97 solo stops in '03 and is the best player in the Browns front 7 if not the best defender on the roster.

If you just look at final fantasy point scored for last year Spikes falls well up into the top 10 but those numbers are a little misleading. If you take away the point for his 2 touchdowns, he drops down to around #15. He only posted 64 solo tackles with 4 or fewer in 11 games and 2 or fewer in 4. Although he will have a few big games along the way, it could be years before he scores again and he is good for a hand full of virtual goose eggs along the way.

Witherspoon at 30... This is a guy I really like, unfortunately there is Dan Morgan who never plays a full season but always manages to eat up just enough playing time to hold Spooney back. When Morgan is down Spooney is an excellent player. When Morgan is healthy, Spooney is average. Morgan was injured in week 8 last year and missed most of 6 games. In those 6 games Witherspoon went 43-7-2 with 3 picks. In the other 10 games he went 41-12-1 with 1 pick. I just can't rank him much higher unless Morgan gets hurt before the season this year.

Tennessee MLB's - Basically yes, I think they are unsettled there and neither Kassell not Calmus will hold the job for a full 16 games. Even if one of them does emerge as the starter he will be a 2 down player since Sirmon and Bulluck play in the nickel and Bulluck in the dime.

I need to look at the cheat sheet but if I have Clark as a WLB it is a typo that I will fix on the next update. He will play in the middle until/unless Kirkland sends him to the bench which I believe will eventually happen.

Taylor - He posted 61 solo tackles, 4 picks and a sack last season but keep in mind that he started only 13 games and was a rookie. This kid is a huge talent who will get nothing but better and he is a play maker. Project his tackle numbers out over 16 games and you get 75 solo's. 3 of his 4 picks came in week 10 or later.

Sharper hasn't missed a lot of games over the past three years but he has been hampered by injuries often which has put a crimp in his production. I drafted this guy as a rookie in a dynasty league 9 years ago and kept him until this off season. I just feel he has a lot of miles on him and has begun to decline.

You will find a lot of varying opinions when it comes to corners in the fantasy game. I am partial to safeties due to consistency. Not only are they more consistent from week to week but they are far more predictable from year to year. Other than a small group of corners (Barber and Winfield heading the charge) there just aren't many that can be counted on. Look at the top 10 corners from '03 and the top 10 from '04. Only Barber makes both lists. There is the rookie corner rule that applies to all rookies who earn starting jobs. They are often targeted by offensive game plans and thus have a lot of opportunity. They often make good short term options (one year wonders as i call them).

Hope this sheds some light. Best of luck to you this season.

Reb

 

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