February 16, 2006


by Michael Stephens

Antwaan Randle El, the receiver who threw the bomb to Hines Ward that broke open Super Bowl XL and propelled the Pittsburgh Steelers to victory, is considering joining the Bears, according to the Chicago Tribune. It would be a homecoming of sorts for the electric wideout and kick returner, who attended Thornton (Ill.) H.S. in the Chicago area and then starred as a quarterback at Indiana University.

“Certainly my family members want me to come here and play here,” Randle El said. “I have to make sure I make the decision based on the important things. If God leads me here to Chicago, I certainly prefer that situation for my family if it is the best situation for me coming in and playing. If this is a team that needs a receiver or a punt returner or what have you… those are the things that are most important.”

God could not be reached for comment, but unrestricted free agency begins March 3 and Randle El wants to get this figured out by the end of next month. The Bears have an interest in landing him, and could certainly use a playmaker of his caliber in their offensive attack. But they’ll have to show him more than the money.

“Money is not the biggest factor,” said Randle El, whose services are also reportedly coveted by the Eagles. “Of course there’s a business side to it, but you have to make sure what is best for your family. You have to make sure you don’t go to a team that doesn’t have a clue about using a guy like myself.”

Randle El wants to start at wide receiver and return punts for his new team. He appeared in every game in four seasons as a Steeler, catching 162 passes for seven TDs. The speedster also returned four punts and a kickoff to paydirt, and completed 14 of 16 passes on trick plays (such as his Super pass to Ward) with a pair of TD tosses.

The Steelers have not indicated an interest in re-signing Randle El, and are apparently ready to go with Cedrick Wilson, Quincy Morgan and Nate Washington along with Super Bowl MVP Ward at wide receiver.

If the Bears sign him, it’s hard to say how this would impact his fantasy value. He would get plenty of looks as a starting receiver alongside Muhsin Muhammad, but Kyle Orton and Rex Grossman are question marks at QB. If you are in a deeper league that counts return yards, it’s definitely worth keeping an eye on Randle El as a bench player and spot starter.



by Michael Stephens

Last Year, Jamal Lewis Walked Out of Prison...Regarding the future of running back Jamal Lewis, the Baltimore Ravens are undecided and may not use the franchise tag on him, writes Jamison Hensley of the Baltimore Sun.

The Ravens have a week before the NFL deadline that will force them to either place the tag on their all-time leading rusher or let him walk, and G.M. Ozzie Newsome has indicated that the team is weighing all options. Baltimore can stop Lewis, who gained a career-worst 906 yards rushing last season, from becoming a free agent with a one-year offer of $6 million.

Lewis’ agent, Mitch Frankel, has talked with the Ravens but doesn’t know which way they are leaning.

“I have no idea,” Frankel said. “I have no indication one way or another. I won’t know for another week.”

Even if he is designated a franchise player, it doesn’t necessarily mean Lewis will remain with the Ravens. There has been speculation that he would be tagged as such, only to be dealt to Minnesota for quarterback Daunte Culpepper. Other rumors have the Ravens coveting USC running back LenDale White with the 13th overall pick in the draft, which would make Lewis expendable.

Lewis earned $3.5 million last year, the final season of his original six-year, $35.5 million contract he signed as the fifth overall selection in the 2000 draft. He became one of only a handful of rushers to gain more than 2,000 yards in a single season in 2003, but has fallen out of favor since — with fantasy owners as well as his own front office.

He was a first round pick in many a draft last year, and a colossal bust at that. This writer was among those confounded with the decision to take Lewis in the top 10. The University of Tennessee product was simply unable to pull his weight, perhaps due to the extra weight he lugged around the previous offseason, if you know what I am talking about.

I’m talking about handcuffs and leg irons. Lewis spent four months in prison after accepting a plea bargain on federal drug charges, then returned just in time to inflict agony and ruin upon my fantasy team. He is a bad person, and not just because he deals illegal narcotics. Stay as far away from Jamal as possible, whoever he suits up for in 2006.


February 12, 2006


by Michael Stephens

Throughout his career, Terrell Owens has demonstrated the ability to galvanize teams — both fantasy and real — but also tear them apart. John Elway could not care less about your fantasy squad, but as far as his Broncos are concerned, he advocates steering clear of T.O.

The Broncos are reportedly interested in Owens, according to the Denver Post. But Elway, the two-time Super Bowl winning quarterback and Denver’s lone Hall of Fame inductee, thinks acquiring the star Eagles wideout is too big a risk for a team already on the verge of contention.

“I think there are a lot of things about T.O. that none of us really knows, but obviously he can ruin a football team,” Elway said Friday from Hawaii, where he participated in the Pro Bowl skills competition.

“If it were up to me I would say no. I think the Broncos are close enough anyway, and they don’t need a guy who’s too much of a risk,” he added. “The Broncos have a great locker room right now; they have a lot of good leaders in there. To have somebody come in who’s worried about himself and not worried about what the team is worried about, I wouldn’t do it.”

In speaking out against Owens coming to the Mile High City, Elway joins former teammates Terrell Davis and Shannon Sharpe, who were instrumental in the Broncos’ back-to-back Super Bowl wins in the late ’90s.

A tremendous talent that wore out his welcome with disparaging remarks and perceived selfishness in San Francisco and Philadelphia, Owens met with Broncos coach Mike Shanahan on January 30. Shanahan brought in Owens, who is expected to become a free agent March 3, after several Broncos veterans expressed support for acquiring the receiver.

But Elway believes the team should build on its success this past season without panicking and making a move it will regret.

“I think [the players] were looking at it as they were hurting by the loss and at that point in time, they’ll do anything to try to improve their team,” Elway said.

Elway was at Invesco Field at Mile High to watch his former team beat the New England Patriots, 27-13, in the divisional playoffs, then get ruined by the Pittsburgh Steelers, 34-17, in the AFC championship game.

“[The Broncos] got beat by a better team, that’s the bottom line. Especially that day. They got behind early, and they’re not a team that can come from behind,” Elway said. “They had a great year, but they weren’t playing their best football. The thing is, to get as close as they did, they’ll have that taste in their mouths and they’ll remember it next year.”

There’s no better receiver in the game when things are going well, but that’s not always the case, as the 49ers and Eagles can attest. Owens would get plenty of looks, even in Shanahan’s run-heavy attack, as the team’s #1 receiving threat. But you know the next indefinite suspension is just around the corner. Prospective fantasy owners should exercise the same caution when it comes to this man. His talent is tempting, but the risk (especially early in your draft) could be too great.


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