Chiefs' Johnson can give you a head start for '06 season

ON FANTASY SPORTS

Commentary

November 17, 2005|By CHILDS WALKER

I'm not feeling drivingly, burningly passionate about a single subject this week, so we're going to do some notes.

I was happy to see Larry Johnson have another big performance Sunday as he takes over the starting tailback slot in Kansas City. I touted Johnson earlier this year, and he'll continue to thrive as a replacement for Priest Holmes.

If you're in a keeper league, it's not too early to be thinking about next year. You can be confident that Johnson will get starter's carries in 2006. So if you've got him, keep him, and if you still think you can get him, do it.

Can't say the same for the Ravens' Chester Taylor, who had no carries on Sunday. Jamal Lewis continues to struggle, but there's no sign Taylor will reap the benefits, so I can't list him as a sleeper any longer.

I'll also take the mea culpa on Trent Green, who just isn't producing this year. He's off the tout list as well.

In Atlanta, Michael Vick is a source of endless fascination. He looked good last week and has owners wondering again if he's a real quarterback. I say no. Vick is tantalizing and a thrill to watch, but he has proved that he's not a consistently accurate passer, so don't let a few weeks fool you.

On the instant star front, you have to love Green Bay's Samkon Gado, who went from practice squad to 100-yard rusher in a few weeks. If you've snagged Gado off the waiver wire, congrats. He's a nice backup runner. But remember, he thrived against a weak Atlanta run defense last week, so he's not an automatic start.

I was just looking at the overall stats for the season, and they affirm one of the great laws of fantasy football: Running backs are always the best starting point. There was a lot of talk around draft time this year that Peyton Manning and Daunte Culpepper were worth second and third overall picks. But if you picked one of them over LaDainian Tomlinson or Shaun Alexander, you're crying right about now.

Over in NBA land, the young season has yielded a few fantasy developments.

In San Antonio, Tony Parker may have taken a legitimate step forward. He's shooting accurately and scoring consistently though he doesn't rack up enough assists to be an elite point.

In Portland, Darius Miles may have finally emerged as a useful player. He can get you blocks and steals while shooting a decent percentage and that makes him an unusual package at small forward.

I have to admit I didn't call the emergence of Utah's Mehmet Okur. You have to love a Turkish center who makes threes.

But I did warn you about Carmelo Anthony, who may not be as good as we all thought three years ago. Superstars don't take long to become superstars, and he's far from that. I might rather have Washington's Caron Butler, who's looking like a nice little addition for the high-scoring Wizards.

If you can bait someone into a trade for Marcus Camby, do it. Camby is great on the boards and blocks shots, but history says he will get hurt, probably for more than a few games.

On the rookie front, only Chris Paul looks like he's worth starting right now. He's shooting well and getting steals; I wish he'd pass off for more assists. I like Andrew Bogut a lot. He looks stronger than I expected, and he could be a top center in the future. But he's not getting the minutes or shots to be a fantasy starter yet. Channing Frye of the Knicks may also be a prize in a few years.

In a final note, I seem to have tossed out my first legitimate jinx. Just weeks after I wrote of my unhealthy love for ESPN Classic Fantasy Baseball, the game was discontinued. A very similar game called Diamond Legends continues at Stats.com, but if anyone went to buy a team only to be rebuffed by ESPN, I apologize. I was mighty bummed myself.

childs.walker@baltsun.com

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