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2006 AFL Preseason Fantasy Draft Guide

Patrick Daly
Thursday January 26, 2006


It’s that time of the year again. The time when diehard Arena Football League fans have started to map out who’s who for their fantasy league team. Whether you’ve done this all before or are playing for the first time there are a few guidelines to follow when defining your draft strategy.

First and foremost, you must understand the scoring system for your league. If you don’t know how scores are calculated – e.g. 6 points for a touchdown pass versus four points for that same touchdown pass makes a big difference in how you rank quarterbacks against other positions.

Related to the first item is the topic of rosters. Know how many players you can have, both in total and at each position. Make sure you have backups where needed, although with no bye weeks this year backups may play a lesser role aside from filling holes left by injury. Also, know where to stock up on players in order to keep them off opponents rosters – i.e. addition by subtraction.

When it comes to picking players, you want someone that can help you win. Drafting the best-known or most popular players is often the key to ensuring you’re standing on the sidelines come playoff time. Also, forget your team loyalties. Yes, I know that goes against the whole concept of being a fan, but now that you’re the owner, it’s the best team that wins. There’s often a hidden gem on team that might finish 2-14 since the points that team does score has to come from somewhere.

Finally, know what it takes to produce points. In my terms, I call it opportunity and you’ll see that word come up quite a bit in the player profiles I’ve provided below. In simple terms, it’s directly related to how much a player is on the field and how involved that player is within his team’s game plan. The best example is evident when comparing offensive specialists to the wide receiver/defensive backs, where the offensive specialist will generally have more opportunities to score since they’re not normally part of the substitution rotation and get to focus on one aspect of the game, offense. While you will get points for defensive plays (assuming your league’s scoring accounts for that – see rule number one above), it’s on offense where you’ll get your most consistent scoring.

Player Guide
Below I’ve broken down most of the top players at each of the major fantasy positions: quarterback; offensive specialist; wide receiver/defensive back; wide receiver/linebacker; fullback/linebacker; kicker. I’ve ranked the players within their peers and have tried to take into account factors such as team dynamics. Also, I’ve put all of this info into one guide rather than breaking it out like I did last year.

Since many drafts don’t take place until after the first week has been played out, I’ll have another update early next week since that’ll be the best gauge without preseason games.

Quarterbacks
1. GRAZIANI, TONY – PHILADELPHIA
Graziani remains one of the top QBs in the AFL and should put up big numbers as he gets more comfortable in Philly.

2. STAFFORD, SHANE – TAMPA BAY
Stafford has plenty of targets, including a new weapon in Bobby Sippio WR/DB, and can put up big numbers as he continues to develop into one of the top QBs in the league.

3. DOLEZEL, CLINT – DALLAS
Threw for big numbers despite missing time with a broken finger last season. Gets three good weapons to chose from and should be good for 85-90 touchdowns in Dallas

4. BISHOP, MICHAEL – CHICAGO
Switched teams with Raymond Philyaw (not by trade), low passing numbers picked up by big rushing numbers and he'll have a chance to grow even more in the Chicago offense.

5. DUTTON, JOHN – COLORADO
Here's hoping the cover of the first EA Sports Arena Football game isn't jinxed. Dutton won't see many changes and could still be available five or six picks in.

6. NAGY, MATT – GEORGIA
Takes over permanently for retired Jim Kubiak, and runs high-octane Steve Thonn offense with WR/LB Derek Lee and OS Chris Jackson. He had strong showing in 12 regular season games last year and was able to help get Georgia to their first ArenaBowl.

7. GRIEB, MARK – SAN JOSE
Grieb continues to quietly keep his team moving, although he'll need Rodney Wright to step up at offensive specialist and continue to get stellar performances from WR/LB James Roe.

8. GARCIA, AARON – NEW YORK
Garcia has been able to make his receivers look good and he'll benefit from the return of Mike Horacek, along with Kevin Swayne, Chris Anthony and Will Holder. With 90 or more touchdowns in five of the last six seasons, Garcia is a good choice at QB.

9. BONNER, SHERDRICK – ARIZONA
Missed time in ’05 due to knee injuries, but has the potential for big numbers even with a number of changes to the receiving corps.

10. FITZGERALD, JOHN – AUSTIN
Fitzgerald has been a steady performer the past few seasons and will have his top two receivers back for more this season. He won't put up huge numbers, but will serve as a reliable backup in the second wave of QBs.

11. STOERNER, CLINT – NASHVILLE
It looks like injury will delay Stoerner's debut for Nashville after an impressive rookie campaign with Dallas last season. Leon Murray will be the starter and though it may be risky, grabbing Stoerner gives you plenty of upside.

12. GERMAINE, JOE – UTAH
Had some good games in when Bonner was out last season, gets opportunity to be the man with a few familiar faces in Burley, Bryant and Pace.

13. KELLY, ANDY – KANSAS CITY
Loses Thabiti Davis and Aaron Bailey and could be in for a down year after the move to KC.

14. KALEO, JOHN – COLUMBUS
As part of the retooled Destroyers offense Kaleo's experience will help drive their changes. Gains services of WR/LB Thabiti Davis and promising WR/DB Lincoln Dupree.

15. HAMILTON, JOE – ORLANDO
Loses Cory Fleming to Nashville and looked a little lost when Fleming was out last season. Jimmy Fryzel and Jerrian James are good young targets and he’ll benefit from Clif Dell’s return.

16. MURRAY, LEON – NASHVILLE
Didn't live up to promise of '04 season and has won out over Stoerner for now. Having the experience of WR/LB Cory Fleming will help.

17. WHELIHAN, CRAIG – LAS VEGAS
Is the man with Dolezel gone, but hasn't started a full season since Orlando four years back. Having a target like Marcus Nash helps.

18. MANN, BRIAN – LOS ANGELES
Saw limited action behind Kaleo in '05; begins '06 as the starter

19. DAVIS, JOSE – GRAND RAPIDS
Earned starting job over Chad Salisbury, but his chance could be short-lived if he falters, although Raymond Philyaw may no longer be in the equation. Does benefit from addition of OS Aaron Bailey.

20. SALISBURY, CHAD – GRAND RAPIDS
Lost battle to be the starter to Jose Davis, but grab him if you also have Davis at QB.

21. PHILYAW, RAYMOND – GRAND RAPIDS
Philyaw's release is directly related to his slow recovery and unless things fall apart in Grand Rapids he'll likely be relocating.

22. JONES, BRIAN – LAS VEGAS
Rookie will get his shot if Whelihan is not up to the task.

Offensive Specialists
1. HARRELL, DAMIAN – COLORADO
Has averaged 40 TDs per season over the past three years and the offense hasn't changed.

2. JACKSON, CHRIS – GEORGIA
Grand Rapids wasn't the right fit, but he moved in nicely with the Force and now holds the OS spot full time with Troy Bergeron moving on.

3. SOLOMON, FREDDIE – TAMPA BAY
Might slide under the radar after missing time due to injury last year, but he's still a top threat when healthy.

4. HORACEK, MIKE – NEW YORK
After a disappointing '04 campaign Horacek was right at home with Aaron Garcia and is primed for big numbers again.

5. KNIGHT, MARCUS – PHILADELPHIA
Only played in 11 games, and with Steve Smith's departure Knight will be the full-time OS, which is a prime spot in a Graziani run offense.

6. SHELLEY, JASON – DALLAS
It's hard to believe that someone can tally 100 or more catches each of the past two seasons and stay under the radar, but Shelley is a guy that'll produce points, which should get better with Dolezel now pulling the trigger in Dallas.

7. DAVIS, THABITI – COLUMBUS
Had a 'down' year (yes, 19 TDs was down) and word is that he'll take the OS role in Columbus' retooled offense with John Kaleo at the helm, which served Tony Locke well last year.

8. NASH, MARCUS – LAS VEGAS
Played through injury and saw his production drop whenever Dolezel was out of the lineup, which doesn't bode well with Dolezel's permanent departure to Dallas. Will remain the main threat for the Gladiators.

9. BURLEY, SIAHA – UTAH
Thrived in Rattlers offense last year despite team's woes, but remains with Germaine in Utah along with Danny White. Don't expect 45 TDs this season, but he'll be a scorer.

10. SMITH, STEVE – KANSAS CITY
Put up strong numbers in '05 with Graziani and should have plenty of opportunity with Andy Kelly pulling the trigger.

11. FRYZEL, JIMMY – ORLANDO
Showed his potential in sporadic duty last season and will be one of the few remaining targets for Hamilton -- could hit 25 touchdowns if healthy.

12. DOUGLAS, HENRY – CHICAGO
Missed time due to injury last year and might lose opportunities to Bishop's legs, but makes a solid number two guy. If he's moved to WR/DB, which looks like a big possibility, that'll cost him some touches.

13. NICKERSON, KEVIN – AUSTIN
Nickerson appears to have taken over the OS spot in Austin and has the potential for numbers bigger than his rookie '05 campaign.

14. WRIGHT, RODNEY – SAN JOSE
Wright started in spots and showed some promise. He now has his chance for better numbers.

15. CULVER, SHANNON – ARIZONA
Won the job over Damien Groce in Arizona (mainly due to salary cap constraints) and makes a good sleeper pick in the Rattlers offense. He won’t be asked to do too much early, but has plenty of potential.

16. BAILEY, AARON – GRAND RAPIDS
Worked well with Andy Kelly in New Orleans, but won't have the same caliber QB throwing his way in Grand Rapids.

17. TOLIVER, T.T. – NASHVILLE
Toliver takes over at offensive specialist for the Kats and will have some opportunities but will need the QB situation to play out.

18. SWAYNE, KEVIN – NEW YORK
Struggled with injuries last season and may be worth a sleeper pick late, although Horacek has the OS spot locked down for now.

19. LOCKE, TONY – LOS ANGELES
Might struggle with QB change, but has plenty of potential. Will miss the first two games of the season, so he's prime for a late draft steal, with Kareem Kelly filling in to start the season.

20. JOHNSON, CJ – CHICAGO
Johnson appears to be the OS at this point, which puts him in a good position, although he'll be battling for balls with Etu Molden, Henry Douglas and Cornelius White.

21. GROCE, DAMIEN – ARIZONA
Was primed for breakout in Arizona offense after steady performance while toiling in Columbus, but he became a salary cap casualty. He could land somewhere and adds potential for scores on kick returns.

Wide Receiver/Defensive Backs
1. PETTIS, WILL – DALLAS
Pettis can only benefit from Dolezel's arrival and he can add points on defense and with kick returns.

2. GATEWOOD, RANDY – ARIZONA
Gatewood begins his 11th season and has put solid numbers throughout his career. Had a career year in '03 and has plenty left in the tank for a good run this year.

3. MARSHALL, WILLIS – COLORADO
Marshall has been extremely consistent the past four years and I wouldn't expect much different this season.

4. SIPPIO, BOBBY – TAMPA BAY
Sippio faded a little late last season, but has shown in his first two seasons that he can put up numbers and his move to Tampa Bay won't change that.

5. INGRAM, KEVIN – LOS ANGELES
Has put up great two-way numbers the past two years and remains a big part of the Avengers offense. While the quarterback spot could be an issue, Ingram will still put up good stats.

6. HOLDER, WILL – NEW YORK
Holder missed some last year and lost some of his opportunities with the arrival of Mike Horacek. Expect numbers closer to 2004 when he scored through the air 26 times.

7. DUPREE, LINCOLN – COLUMBUS
After a pretty successful rookie season Dupree sat out in 2005 and returns to the AFL with Columbus where he's penciled in as the starting WR/DB. With the modified Destroyers offense Dupree should at least match his numbers of two years ago.

8. ROBINSON, SEDRICK – AUSTIN
Takes over at WR/DB with Kevin Nickerson's move to OS. Had some big games in Columbus, but should be in a better position with the Wranglers.

9. JAMES, JERRIAN – ORLANDO
James put together a few nice games in his rookie year with the Predators, including a three-touchdown game against Austin. Expect slightly better numbers with a full season of play.

10. BRYANT, ORSHAWANTE – UTAH
Bryant missed the first half of last season but played well in Arizona's 6-2 second half run. He'll be the starter in Utah, which gives him more opportunities.

11. PARKER, RICKY – GEORGIA Parker is a defensive player with great speed, which the Force like to have on the field on offense. He hasn't played the two-way spot much, but with more time on offense could be a scoring threat with opponents expected to focus on Derek Lee and Chris Jackson.

12. DELL, CLIF – ORLANDO
A knee injury kept Dell out of a preseason scrimmage with Tampa Bay and he'll miss at least the first two weeks, which means you shouldn't take a chance here until the later rounds.

13. BUSH, JOSH – GRAND RAPIDS
Bush has put up decent numbers in his first two seasons, with some big games mixed in. The questions at quarterback will hurt his production, which means he might not provide many more points than the past two seasons.

14. HILLERY, JARRICK – NASHVILLE
Don't expect stellar receiving numbers, but Hillery will supplement his stats with the occasional rushing score.

Wide Receiver/Linebackers
1. LEE, DEREK – GEORGIA
While teammate OS Troy Bergeron got most of the rookie hype last season, it was Lee that really came on at the end of the year during Georgia's stretch run.

2. ROE, JAMES – SAN JOSE
Stock could go up even higher if he moves to OS full time, although he'll still likely end up with a bulk of the opportunities, which means more chances for points.

3. SCOTT, SEAN – PHILADELPHIA
After a strong rookie campaign in '04, Scott improved on those numbers in '05 and should have another solid season with a second year with Graziani.

4. BURKS, DIALLEO – DALLAS
Burks's best AFL season came two years ago when he last played in Dallas (102 catches for 1221 yards and 28 TDs). Now that he's returned his numbers should return to that form and with last year being a down year statistically, you might be able to get him later in the draft.

5. SAMUELS, LAWRENCE – TAMPA BAY
Samuels doesn't get a lot of recognition with OS Freddie Solomon in town, but he'll make a good second or third receiver in your lineup.

6. MOLDEN, ETU – CHICAGO
Molden has hit paydirt 29 times on offense in each of the last two years, but it remains to be seen how Michael Bishop's arrival will impact his receivers.

7. FLEMING, CORY – NASHVILLE
Fleming has already established himself as one of the league's best at the WR/LB spot and while his production could drop in Nashville, he'll still be a solid producer even when ranked with all receivers, including offensive specialists.

8. CHIAVERINI, DARRIN – AUSTIN
The former Cleveland Browns receiver has taken to the AFL well over the past two seasons and should still be a major piece in Austin. He'll get another year with QB John Fitzgerald, which should only improve his opportunities.

9. MCCULLOUGH, ANDY – COLORADO
McCullough was built for the WR/LB spot and has plenty of potential that has yet to be truly realized. With the release of Kevin McKenzie, McCullough figures to see his chances improve, especially if opposing defenses focus too much on OS Damian Harrell.
10. ANTHONY, CHRIS – NEW YORK
Anthony figures to still be the man at WR/LB and has the chance at plenty of points with the venerable Aaron Garcia at quarterback. Will likely fly under the radar.

11. SAUNDERS, DAVID – COLUMBUS
Assuming Thabiti Davis stays at the OS spot, Saunders should get his shot at more playing time in a Columbus offense that should be much better with John Kaleo at quarterback.

12. HINES, ANTHONY – GRAND RAPIDS
Hines is another receiver that won't be at the top of most lists, but there's plenty of upside, assuming Philyaw's debut in Grand Rapids isn't delayed too long.

13. POPE, JEREMIAH – ARIZONA
Pope earned a spot on the Rattlers squad and appears to be penciled in as the starter, which means he'll have a shot a decent numbers, but he won't be a focal point of the offense.

14. HOPKINS, GREG – LOS ANGELES
Hopkins should certainly get consideration as an AFL Hall of Famer when he's done, but his numbers won't match past seasons, especially with a lack of experience at QB in Los Angeles.

15. PACE, TOM – UTAH
With the changes in Arizona in 2005, Pace saw his opportunities and involvement limited, but he'll be back in a Danny White engineered system, which should open up his production.

16. WHITE, CORNELIUS – CHICAGO
White has toiled in virtual anonymity in Columbus and has put up good numbers the past two seasons, although unless things get shuffled around in Chicago he won't get enough opportunities to provide you with points.

17. DOUGLASS, JOE – LAS VEGAS
Douglass made most of limited opportunities after a dip in his numbers in Los Angeles in '04. The quarterback situation in Las Vegas bears watching and will directly impact all of the receivers' numbers.

Fullback/Linebackers
1. AVERY, CHRIS – GRAND RAPIDS
After losing some rushing touchdown chances to Michael Bishop's legs, Avery now has to potentially share more time with Chris Ryan (a.k.a. "Soul Train"), but he's proven himself to be a solid runner.

2. PETTIJOHN, DUKE – DALLAS
With Ja'Mar Toombs out of the picture, Pettijohn's stock should go up.

3. THOMAS, ROBERT – GEORGIA
Injuries hampered Thomas's '05 season and could even double last year's numbers if he stays on the field. If you end up with Thomas, keep an eye on FB/LB Kevin Aldridge as well.

4. THOMPSON, LEROY – COLUMBUS
Thompson put up good numbers in limited action last year and will be the main man in Columbus.

5. CARTER, FRANK – NASHVILLE
Carter made a bigger name for himself last season based on his defensive performances, but he can post good numbers on offense as well, which makes him a more than viable starter.

6. MCMILLEN, BOB – CHICAGO
Destined for the AFL Hall of Fame when he's done, McMillen still seems to have plenty left. The 22-touchdown year in '04 was amazing, but expect something more along the lines of 8-10 touchdowns and 160 yards.

7. WHITE, JOSH – AUSTIN
White was a guy I said to keep an eye on last year, and he put up good enough numbers to be one of the top options at FB/LB. That spot appears to be crowded in Austin, which could impact White's numbers, but he appears to be a good option for the Wranglers.

8. PRICE, IDRIS – ORLANDO
Price got off to a great start with two TDs in each of the first two games of 2005, but was inconsistent the remainder of the season. Playing time will be a concern with other options in the Predators' backfield.

9. FORD, LONNIE – LOS ANGELES
Ford flew under the radar and put up good numbers for the Avengers. With inexperience at quarterback, it's a good bet that he'll see the ball around the goal line.

10. CLEMENS, KEVIN – UTAH
Clemens hasn't put up much in the way of numbers so far, but the job in Utah is his to lose. Don't expect much production, but he'll provide some points here and there.

11. TOOMBS, JA'MAR – FREE AGENT
Toombs parlayed a strong 2005 campaign into a shot at running the ball for one of the league's top rushing touchdown teams, but his release just prior to the season puts a damper on those prospects.

12. FILER, RODNEY – LAS VEGAS
Filer's energy on the field, particularly on defense, has always impressed me, but now he seems to be the main FB/LB in Las Vegas.

13. GLOVER, PHIL – SAN JOSE
Glover heads into a great situation in San Jose, where they scored 40 touchdowns on the ground last year. He also adds a few points on the defensive side of the ball.

14. MOYE-MOORE, MARLON – ORLANDO
Although he's listed third on the chart, Moye-Moore has plenty of potential to add points if he can stay on the field.

15. JACKSON, MARLION – LAS VEGAS
May get his shot at being the starter, which could put him in a good position, particularly if the quarterbacks struggle, but will likely split time with Filer.

16. RYAN, CHRIS – GRAND RAPIDS
The "Soul Train" was popular in Philly with virtually identical rushing numbers each of the past two seasons. His production will be limited with Chris Avery in front of him.

17. BRYANT, HENRY – AUSTIN
Bryant showed plenty of promise last season, but the FB/LB position will be crowded in Texas' capitol city. He'll be best as insurance should something happen to White or Krager.

18. KRAGER, DANE – AUSTIN
With a virtual three-way battle for time in Austin, Krager's numbers won't be stellar, but he may throw in some points on defense.

19. GRANT, RUPERT – NASHVILLE
Grant split time between Orlando and Nashville last season, but starts the season on IR and will be behind Frank Carter, which means he won't see too much action.

Kickers
1. HAMILTON, REMY – LOS ANGELES
Has established himself as one of the best kickers and gave the single season field goal record a good run last year. With inexperience at quarterback, he may get as many or more field goal tries this season.

2. MARTINEZ, CARLOS – DALLAS
In his first full season Martinez was second only to Hamilton in scoring. With Dallas turning to Clint Dolezel at QB Martinez might get a few more chances.

3. RUSH, CLAY – COLORADO
Rush's first season in Colorado ended with his game-winning kick that won ArenaBowl XIX and his leg will keep him atop the kicking charts.

4. MARTINEZ, PETER – GRAND RAPIDS
Martinez had plenty of chances in his rookie campaign and could put up more points if he can find his mark in the 30- to 39-yard range.

5. TAYLOR, JAY – ORLANDO
An impressive rookie season in '04 earned Taylor a shot with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers (apparently there's some link between the teams' head coaches). After a brief stint back in Orlando last year, Taylor is back onboard full time.

6. LEWIS, MARK – COLUMBUS
After a strong rookie season in '04 with Detroit, Lewis saw just over a third of the field goals in '05. Columbus has retooled the offense and Lewis should be in a better position to put up points.

7. GARNER, NELSON – GEORGIA
Garner only had 14 field goal tries (he converted seven), and I don't see many more chances this season.

8. KRAL, GARY – ARIZONA
Kral's struggles in Nashville forced the Kats to cut him loose, but he performed well enough in Arizona and the Rattlers offense will provide opportunities.

9. SCHMITZ, BRIAN – SAN JOSE
The SaberCats haven't attempted many field goals, no more than 15 since 2001, which means Schmitz might not get enough field goal chances.

10. VIDETICH, STEVE – UTAH
The Blaze get their kicking game off to a good start with Videtich, who's hit 50% of his field goal tries over the past four seasons.

11. GISPERT, KEITH – CHICAGO
Gispert was very accurate from 29 yards and in (9 for 10) and has been accurate, but won't see as many chances.

12. FRANCE, TODD – PHILADELPHIA
France spent time with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Philadelphia Eagles this past season and the Soul hope they've got a better solution than the pair of kickers they fielded last year, particularly on long range field goal tries. The Graziani run offense should give France a shot for plenty of points.

13. GRAMATICA, BILL – TAMPA BAY
Unfortunately, Gramatica may be better known for his post-kick celebration that left him with a knee injury, but now he'll try to avoid Tim Marcum's doghouse that seems to have a room specially reserved for kickers.

14. OBERT, JESSE – NEW YORK
The University of Dayton product has spent time in af2 (Manchester Wolves) and the NIFL (Cincinnati Marshals) so he's had some indoor experience and should benefit from a potent Dragons offense.

15. DODSON, TONY – NASHVILLE
Dodson's struggles in Austin punched his ticket out, but he landed in Nashville. Chances aren't good that he'll provide many points.

16. SEDER, TIM – KANSAS CITY
While he had some success in Philly, Seder's move to Kansas City will likely reduce his scoring opportunities.

17. SIEVERS, TODD – AUSTIN
If Austin can get the pieces working together Sievers may get his fair share of scoring opportunities. Nine games…

18. HOULE, ERIC – LAS VEGAS
Houle spent the past two seasons with the Rio Grande Dorados in af2 and makes his AFL debut this season. Regardless of what Houle brings to the table, the Gladiators won't allow much in the way of kicking opportunities.


 
Patrick Daly has been an Arena Football League enthusiast since he first stumbled across the late-night ESPN broadcasts and has followed the Arizona Rattlers since their inaugural season in 1992. He graduated from Arizona State University with an engineering degree and is currently a member of a web development team for Direct Alliance in Tempe. Patrick currently resides in the Phoenix suburb of Chandler, Arizona with his beautiful wife, son and a very large football helmet collection.
The opinions expressed in the article above are only those of the writer, and do not necessarily reflect the thoughts, opinions, or official stance of ArenaFan Online or its staff, or the Arena Football League, or any AFL or af2 teams.
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