Value lurks in the shadows of stars
Nothing good ever seems to lurk in the shadows – except, of course, in the world of fantasy football. Long shadows are cast by the likes of Eagles QB Donovan McNabb or his new best friend, WR Terrell Owens, and few outside the Eagles faithful can name more than a couple offensive players beyond those two. But if you look closely, there in the shadows, is a little known tight end by the name of L.J. Smith. With T.O. and his gold teeth hogging the limelight, Smith rarely makes the highlight reel. Instead, L.J. appears perfectly content toiling away in the shadows, catching touchdowns and compiling a well-rounded stat sheet. Superstars are a necessary commodity for any championship fantasy team but it’s the late-round pick or after-draft additions that can push a team over the top. Look past the hype and into the shadows to find that elusive diamond in the rough. Beyond Smith, there a number of other priceless little gems to be plucked from the shadows of the big name players. Randy Moss and Daunte Culpepper demand most of the attention in Minnesota but not every ball ends up in the hands of “The Freak.” RB Onterrio Smith has been feasting on opposing defenses as Moss takes half the secondary with him down the field. Smith is due to serve a four-game suspension in the coming weeks which will certainly decrease his value but when he returns he’ll be rested, healthy and hungry. Couple this with starting RB Michael Bennett’s injury history, and Smith may indeed turn out to be the self-proclaimed “Steal of the Draft.” With offensive firepower like Peyton Manning, Marvin Harrison and Edgerrin James, it’s easy to see why the Colts’ Brandon Stokley is not a household name. But Stokley may be the most productive third receiver in the league and is a reliable target for the opportunistic Manning, which makes him a great “shadow dweller” for those weak at wide receiver. Ask the PunditDear Pundit: I have three quality running backs but need to choose between starting Thomas Jones (Bears) and Duce Staley (Steelers). LaDanian Tomlinson (Chargers) will start every week unless he is injured or on a bye week, but I’m not sure about my second starter. In a previous column, you advised against Jones, but he has been lighting it up every week. Is he a safe start this week, too?- Glen in Glenwood SpringsGlen: I wondered when I was going to hear about my Jones prediction. However, I stand by my words, especially in light of Bears QB Rex Grossman’s season-ending knee injury last week. Jones is going up against the stout Eagles run defense, while Staley and the Steelers host the Bengals. Staley rushed for 101 yards last week against Miami, and he now faces a Cincy defense that granted 186 yards to RB Ravens Jamal Lewis. Pair Tomlinson with Staley and keep Jones on the bench.- Pigskin PunditQuestion for the Pundit? Send it to PigskinPundit@hotmail.com.
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