Football

Peterson won’t be a factor in this fantasy league

Adrian Peterson slid past the first two picks in one of my leagues. He wasn’t even taken in the first round. Or the second. In fact, following our 17-round draft, Peterson remains a free agent. And he’ll stay that way all season.

The Flower Mound Fantasy Football League lost one of its original owners a few months ago. Our buddy Phil, my next-door neighbor, was taken from us far too early, and far too tragically. He left a wife and two young sons behind.

We were determined to honor his memory this year; but a simple dedication didn’t seem sufficient.

Phil was a passionate University of Oklahoma alumnus, and his favorite Sooner of them all was Peterson. Phil refused to call him AP, as most fantasy enthusiasts do, because he knew his true nickname is AD: All Day. When he could, Phil drafted AD. Last year, when his second overall pick wasn’t good enough to bag his prize, he christened his team “Missing AD.”

So, in tribute to our fallen friend, Peterson has been idled for the 2010 campaign — perhaps the only fantasy league on the planet with that distinction. AD’s conspicuous absence will serve as a constant reminder of the real void left by our trash-talking, roster-flipping adversary and comrade.

Rest in peace, Phil. We love you, man.

Last-minute developments of note

As we steam toward Thursday night’s regular-season kickoff, several high-profile players are looking for work or getting familiar with new playbooks. But few of the recent roster moves will cause more than a blip on the fantasy radar, and the biggest domino of them all (

Vincent Jackson

) has yet to fall. Here are the developments worth tracking.

In a secret basement near Tempe, Ariz., work has begun on a plaster image of

Matt Leinart

in anticipation of his pending enshrinement into the pantheon of all-time NFL busts. Leinart’s unceremonious departure is unlikely to end the Cardinals’ nightmare, especially since he outplayed the new starter,

Derek Anderson

, throughout the preseason. As we’ve warned all offseason, those banking on Larry Fitzgerald are in for a rude awakening.

Sam Bradford

was named the Rams' Week 1 starter, in the least surprising announcement of the week. Now all they need is a legitimate receiving threat. (No offense,

Laurent Robinson

.) I still anticipate Jackson to land here eventually.

Ahmad Bradshaw

has been declared the Giants’ starter, which is not sitting well with

Brandon Jacobs

. Two weeks ago in my “sleepers” column, I told you Bradshaw would outperform his backfield mate this season, even if he didn’t supplant Jacobs as the starter. That projection looks even better now.

If you were counting on

Michael Bush

, I’ll start by asking why. Then I’ll tell you to prepare for a possible extended absence, as he could miss three or four weeks due to his broken thumb.

Darren McFadden

is not likely to be the answer, for you or the Raiders.

Perhaps you should look cross-country, where

Willie Parker’s

release by Washington clears the decks for

Clinton Portis

and

Larry Johnson

to share backfield duties. I continue to believe Johnson will be the more valuable of the two fantasy backs. Despite being nearly two years older than Portis, Johnson has 623 fewer carries over his career, which helps explain why the younger rusher breaks down more frequently.

Seattle’s backfield is also less muddled now that

Julius Jones

has been cut. The Seahawks’ committee has been reduced to the steady-but-undersized

Justin Forsett

and the explosive Leon Washington, who is returning from a severe leg injury. Washington has been a nice late-round flier with upside, while Forsett is arguably over-valued on most draft boards. Keep in mind that both play in a low-octane offense.

Speaking of which…

Deion Branch

and Mike Williams are your starting wideouts in Seattle, now that

T.J. Houshmandzadeh

has been set free. Suddenly, another USC star-turned-bust has fantasy players across the country a-twitter, despite the fact that Williams has just 51 career receptions since he was drafted in 2005 and he hasn’t played in two years. I have no interest in any wideout currently on the rosters in Buffalo, Cleveland, Oakland, St. Louis, Seattle or Tennessee.

Baltimore’s signing of Houshmandzadeh could hurt

Derrick Mason’s

production, but not enough to interest me in Seattle’s castoff. There’s a reason the Seahawks released him, and it’s not because they’re stacked at his position. Perhaps the most intriguing move of the last few days was Dallas’ trade of

Patrick Crayton

to the Chargers. Once he gets acclimated, Crayton should force his way into the starting rotation, most likely hindering the development of

Legedu Naanee

. But

Malcom Floyd

is no sure thing either, which means the steady but unspectacular Crayton just might wind up as

Philip Rivers’

most reliable target before long.

I’ve taken some heat for placing

Jermichael Finley

atop my tight end rankings. Some critics even warned that

Spencer Havner

would poach red-zone targets from Finley. Now that Green Bay has waived Havner, will you trust me now?

Those of us counting on the Jets defense were relieved by the end to

Darrelle Revis’

contract holdout. Will

Anquan Boldin

be lost on Revis Island on Monday night? Let’s just say I like Boldin’s chances better this week than once the shutdown corner shakes off the rust.

Three key kicking battles were also settled when the Texans chose

Neil Rackers

, Baltimore picked

Billy Cundiff

and

Mike Nugent

prevailed in Cincinnati. All three will be batting clean-up for solid offenses, making them good last-round values if you’re drafting this week.

Thursday night can’t get here soon enough.

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