Feature RBs best fantasy picks

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    Chicago Bears Devin Hester gets tackled after catching a pass by Kansas City Chiefs Demorrio Williams during a NFL preseason football game at Soldiers Field in Chicago on Aug. 7. Photo courtesy of MCT
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    Welcome ladies and gentle people to yet another season of Belichick bashing, Eli jokes and fantasy football guidance with a good dosage of Gulf Coast bias.

    I’d like to thank you for reading this column when you probably should be listening to the professor your parents pay for, and I’ll do my best to make it worth your while.

    Many drafts have already finished, but for those of you with commissioners smart enough to allow a full preseason before the draft, let’s work on draft strategy.

    Fantasy football pundits all over the net are pointing to the end of the two-stud running back draft approach; this of course is where one selects the top running back available in the first two rounds. The critics have a good point – wide outs are performing better and seeing the ball more, while clear cut, everyday down backs are going the way of the Dodo – but, depending on your league settings, finding a couple standout runners is still the fastest way to league domination.

    The key is to focus on uncontested lead backs like LaDanian Tomlinson, Frank Gore, Ryan Grant and Steven Jackson, while avoiding situations like in Miami, Tampa Bay and Seattle. The winners of those skirmishes will eventually become commodities, but there is no reason to reach for their participants early in the draft.

    The tight end class is extremely deep this year, so let someone else reach for Antonio Gates or Jason Witten in the third round; in the meantime, solidify your core and pick up a solid tight end, like Owen Daniels, Tony Scheffler or Todd Heap, in the fifth or sixth round.

    A note on auction drafts: Do not let yourself become enamored with any one player; the top five guys at each position score roughly the same amount of fantasy points when the season is over, so why take a premier No. 1 guy when you could take two No. 3s or three No. 5s at any position?

    The key to any good draft is knowing your league rules. Review them an hour before the draft. Keep them in front of you. A player’s value can vary widely depending on points per reception, yardage points and return yards.

    Keep every team’s depth chart close at hand, and take fliers on these guys in the later rounds.

    Sleepers:

    Jericho Cotchery – He racked up more than 1,000 yards receiving last year on a team that put all hope in a free agent running back to save an offense without a quarterback or an offensive line. Now he will be the leading wideout opposite Laveranues Coles – whom he doubled in both receptions and yardage last year – and catching balls from the venerable Brett Favre. The newest Jet has been targeting him long and often in practice and preseason games.

    Thomas Jones – In his first season with the Jets, Jones rushed for more than a 1,000 yards despite the weight of the expectations of all those Jets fans and the lack of even an above average offensive line – see above. This offseason, the Jets spent considerable coin shoring up the offensive line, most notably adding former Steeler Pro-Bolwer Alan Faneca, and he won’t be facing his normal diet of 8-man fronts either, as defenses drop back to pick off the NFL’s all-time leader in throwing balls to the wrong team.

    Devin Hester – In today’s NFL, when you think Chicago Bears, you think Hester. Last year, he was their entire offense – even if he did it all on special teams. After one full season and two offseasons to learn the wide receiver position he could be ready to live up to the flashes he has shown thus far in his receiving career.