Fantasy season a marathon, not a sprint
The race to the Super Bowl will soon be upon us. As with the NFL, the run-up to a Fantasy Football League Championship is more of a marathon than a sprint. Don’t be fooled by early statistical front-runners who tend to fade down the stretch. Instead, look to the players who may struggle early but have good reason to thrive in November and December. A perfect example is the up-and-coming Detroit Lions. Generally considered the doormat of the NFL, the boys from Motor City finally appear to have a Formula One in the garage as opposed to the 1967 jalopy they’ve been sporting for the last decade. Over the last three years, the Lions have focused on offensive firepower like few other teams. With the additions of quarterback Joey Harrington (third year), wide receivers Charles Rogers (second year) and Roy Williams (rookie), the Lions have steadily upgraded the skill positions since 2002. These three were selected with an average draft position of fourth overall, so expectations are sky-high. Throw in running back Kevin Jones, a 2004 late first-rounder, and the optimism appears warranted. Getting new players to jell is not as simple as giving them all the same-colored uniforms and telling them to hang out together. It takes time and practice, but eventually this Fab Four will come together and form a cohesive unit that will put up excellent numbers for years to come.Head coach Steve Mariucci is in his second year, and his complicated offensive scheme appears to finally be clicking with Harrington and the others. As a fantasy team owner, it’s your job to position yourself to snag one or two of these guys before everyone else sees the writing on the wall.Expect the foursome to struggle early, which gives you an opportunity to either trade for them – or perhaps add them in smaller leagues where they might have gone undrafted. Either way, keep in mind that the pursuit of the trophy is a marathon and not a sprint. So grab the guys that will help down the road and these Lions may be the new kings of the fantasy jungle.Ask the PunditDear Pundit: I’m in a 14-team league, and the “comeback” rumors finally got to me. I just drafted Ricky Williams (RB-Miami) with my 16th and final pick. Was that a smart move?Bumbling Barry-Sioux Falls, SDBarry: My first response is to drop him ASAP. However, it does depend upon your league. Bear in mind that he will not play at all this season, and could face suspension into 2005 as well. If your league allows you to hold over a player into the following year, Ricky may be worth the gamble. If this is the case and your “holdover” players return at the same draft position, Ricky may end up being the greatest 16th-round pick in fantasy football history.The Pigskin PunditQuestion for the Pundit? Send it to PigskinPundit@hotmail.com.
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