AHHH, THE ANNUAL PETER KING FANTASY ADVICE COLUMN. WHENEVER I'M ASKED TO GIVE FANTASY ADVICE, I'M REMINDED OF THE SEINFELD EPISODE IN WHICH KRAMER GOES TO A YANKEES FANTASY CAMP (AND PUNCHES OUT MICKEY MANTLE). AND GEORGE SAYS, "KRAMER GOES TO A FANTASY CAMP... . HIS WHOLE LIFE IS A FANTASY CAMP. People should plunk down $2,000 to live like him for a week."
And, good people of Fantasyland, I hope you plunked down $7.99 for this fine magazine for reasons other than my misguided wisdom. Remember last year? That's when I told you to:
• DRAFT JOHN BECK. "Good chance to be a solid fantasy backup," I reported. Beck was a backup all right—for the Redskins.
• DRAFT KEVIN BOSS. He caught 28 balls for 368 yards and three touchdowns—all the lowest since his rookie year.
• NOT DRAFT DAVID AKERS. (Technically, I discouraged you from doing so.) He broke the NFL record for field goals in a season.
• DRAFT MIKE SIMS-WALKER. I said he could catch 60 balls. Well, he was close. He caught 12.
In other words, turn the page quickly. Run for your lives! Well, if you're still reading, I assume you want something from me. And I shall attempt to give you some advice.
A very interesting late-round guy, to me, is Denver's Brandon Stokley, who is Peyton Manning's favorite slot receiver of all time. Stokley is 36. He's had trouble staying healthy, and he probably would have retired if the Broncos hadn't signed him to a one-year contract. He's either going to be a comeback-player-of-the-year type or an injury casualty, or maybe just not good enough at his age to keep up with the kids. But if he is healthy he's worth a late pick; take him in the 12th round if he's there. And sticking with the Broncos, if Manning stays upright, he's going to make a star out of either Demaryius (so long, Timmy) Thomas or Eric Decker. Maybe both. Write it down. If the Pro Bowl still exists this year, and let's hope it doesn't, one or both of those guys will be in it.
Also, I like the Raiders in fantasy football this year. I'm scared of Darren McFadden, who gets hurt about as often as I overpay for a latte. But this is a team that's going to throw the ball a lot, so Denarius Moore in a middle round, Juron Criner (rookie possession receiver out of Arizona) late, along with running back Taiwan Jones as a relief pitcher for McFadden, would be smart buys. Remember: New G.M. Reggie McKenzie is a clean-slate guy. He picked Dennis Allen as his coach in part because Allen too is open-minded about what they're going to do with this team. And I think they're going to love their young receiver group.
And as long as we're in the AFC West... . I like Ryan Mathews a lot. He's a top 10 running back for sure and could be top five by the end of the year. With Mike Tolbert gone, Mathews will become Norv Turner's workhorse in San Diego, à la Emmitt Smith in Dallas 20 years ago. I'm not saying Mathews will produce like that, and I'm not saying he'll come close to Maurice Jones-Drew's 386 touches last year, but Mathews has a chance to be a 1,500-yard back with the Chargers.