In cyber-football, team allegiances mean nothing

A Houston fan rooting for the Cowboys’ defense, a Bears fan cheering for Brett Favre to throw a touchdown, a Colts fan pumping his or her fist for an Adam Vinatieri field goal. Well, at least the first two still work.It’s that wonderful time again, a time to pull for those you’ve hated and a time to hate your friends for the next four months. It’s fantasy football time.

To help you get ready for your draft, we’re going position by position analyzing who you need to love and who you may just find a new reason to dislike.

These rankings are not based on any specific scoring schemes but instead, take a look at the player themselves and what kind of potential they have on the field.

Each position will have four categories: locks, on the edge, avoids and the all-important sleepers.


Lock – Peyton Manning: The only question is how

high to take him in the first round.

On the Edge – Vince Young: He made great strides

during his rookie year and has big-play potential, but lost a workhorse running back in Travis Henry and both of his starting wide receivers.

Avoid – Matt Schaub: New QB but same old question marks all over the offensive side of the ball in Houston, especially in regard to the offensive line. He may hook up with Andre Johnson for some nice games, but it’s hard to throw lying down.

Sleeper – Joey Harrington: He is the starter for the Falcons, a team that still has Alge Crumpler and Joe Horn as well as a couple of good running backs. Who knows, without having to look behind them to see where to block, the line might even buy Harrington the time to take advantage of his comfort with the system and his extra practice reps.

Running Back:

Lock – LaDainian Tomlinson: Your man, my man, our man. L.T. is unstoppable, period.

On the Edge – Larry Johnson: L.J. is in this spot because although he is a prolific running back who gets stronger as the season goes on. He’s coming off an NFL-record 416 carries and has just seen quarterback Trent Green and Pro Bowl guard Will Shields disappear before his eyes. I hope he enjoyed his rest; he’s going to need it.

Avoid – Clinton Portis: The hand, the shoulder, the knee, the Ladell Betts-I enjoy my sleep at night, do you?

Sleeper – Marshawn Lynch: With no real threat behind him, Lynch has a great opportunity to utilize his strong rushing and receiving abilities and to be a part of a growing and youthful offense in Buffalo.

Defense and Special Teams:

Lock – Chicago Bears: The “Monsters of the Midway,” who were able to keep Lance Briggs and dump Tank Johnson, remain the best unit in the league. With Devin Hester still returning kicks, this group is over the top.

On the Edge – Dallas Cowboys: DeMarcus Ware, Terence Newman and Roy Williams make this defense a constant threat, but the additions of Ken Hamlin to shore up the secondary and Anthony Spencer to provide yet another avenue to rush the passer coupled with the arrival of Wade Phillips make this defense just downright scary.

Avoid – Tennessee Titans: The loss of Adam “Pacman” Jones only further cripples this already-reeling and cash-strapped unit.

Sleeper – Denver Broncos: With Champ Bailey and Dre’ Bly, the takeaways will materialize throughout the course of the season. Now, if the rest of the defense can prevent a collapse, then this should be a very good bunch.

Stay tuned for next week’s column when we will look at wide receivers, tight ends and kickers as well as preview the opening game between Indianapolis and New Orleans.