- Scott Engel, ESPN Fantasy Games
The beginning of the fantasy football season is less than a month away, and as we get closer to the first week of the schedule, more names seem to be making news. The current questions we have about certain players for 2006 aren't necessarily the same concerns we had a month ago. Here are some of the biggest questions that have leapt into the collective minds of fantasy owners recently, with detailed answers.
1. How does Clinton Portis' injury affect his draft value?: Before his injury , Portis was the clear No. 5 fantasy running back overall, and you could make a good case he should have been picked fourth, behind only Larry Johnson, Shaun Alexander and LaDainian Tomlinson. Now Portis is expected to miss the rest of the preseason and his status is unclear for the regular season opener. There have been reports that Portis should play in the season opener if his partially dislocated shoulder responds well to rehabilitation. So he remains worthy of a first-round fantasy draft choice. But there is always the fear that another big hit on the shoulder could cause him to miss more time during the season. I have personally dropped Portis from fifth to ninth in my overall rankings, behind a healthy and dependable Rudi Johnson and Steven Jackson, who seems primed for a big year. LaMont Jordan and Edgerrin James have some concerns surrounding them, but for now, I'd also take them over Portis, since drafting him carries some risk. He's the centerpiece of a power running game and his shoulder will be subjected to a lot of jarring hits on inside runs. Ladell Betts is recovering from a mild hamstring injury, but is still a good pick in the ninth or 10th round of 10- and 12-team leagues.
2. Have you bumped up Reggie Bush on your draft list?: Before he played his first preseason game, Bush was the subject of much controversy among fantasy owners. Some thought he might be an instant superstar, while others said he was overrated. After an impressive exhibition opener, many fantasy leaguers are now considering drafting Bush as early as the first round. His 44-yard run against Tennessee, coupled with the continued questions about other top-level RBs such as Domanick Davis and Willis McGahee, has boosted Bush's appeal even more. Even before his first flash of NFL glory, I was among those who thought Bush could be a very good fantasy starter right away. He is an explosive runner, especially in the open field, and he has amazing receiving skills, as he can challenge many NFL defensive backs with his separation speed and downfield gears. But the fact remains that Deuce McAllister will still be a part of the New Orleans offense, and Bush won't be the only Saints RB getting touches. He can score any time he has the ball, but Bush remains a good early second-round pick. I'd still rather have another promising RB who gets regular carries, such as Carnell Williams or Ronnie Brown. Bush has only moved up one spot in my personal rankings, from No. 14 to 13, because I have dropped Domanick Davis behind him.
Scott Engel answers ten pressing questions from the early preseason.