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Resolved: To run with L.T., be afraid of Madden

Legend has it the tradition of New Year's resolutions dates to 153 B.C.

That's when Janus, a mythical king of early Rome, was placed at the head of the calendar. Because he had two faces, Janus could look back on past events and forward to the future.

I want that dude next to me when I draft my 2007 fantasy football team.

With or without his help, here are a half-dozen resolutions I'm making:

Start with L.T.: Proving I'm no Janus, I advised taking Seattle's Shaun Alexander with the No. 1 pick over San Diego's LaDainian Tomlinson. Never again. Whether he's played for Super Bowl contenders or duds with the Bolts, L.T. has been amazing and, just as important, durable. The fastest to 100 career touchdowns, the all-time one-season scoring record, more than 9,000 rushing yards in six seasons. On and on, all while missing just one game during his career. If L.T. is healthy, L.T. is No. 1. Unless . . .

Take the jinx seriously: I've concluded there's definitely something to this cover jinx on the ultra-popular (John) Madden football video game. It makes the Sports Illustrated cover jinx seem pee wee. Alexander was the cover boy for the 2007 version (it always debuts prior to the previous season) and rushed for just 187 yards in the first three games, his slowest start since 2002. That's before he suffered a broken bone in his left foot that caused him to miss six games. That's just the tip of the iceberg. Philadelphia quarterback Donovan McNabb missed the last seven games of 2005 with a hernia. Baltimore linebacker Ray Lewis went all of 2004 without an interception, the only time that's happened in his 11 seasons. Atlanta QB Michael Vick broke a leg and missed 11 games in 2003. St. Louis RB Marshall Faulk had topped the 1,000-yard mark five consecutive seasons before 2002 but never did again. Minnesota QB Daunte Culpepper went from 33 TD passes in 2000 to just 14 in 2001 and suffered a knee injury for good measure that cost him the final five games. Here's hoping Madden stays away from L.T. for the 2008 game. But don't count on it.

Avoid Broncos backs: Late last summer, nobody knew who would ring the Bell in the Denver backfield -- Tatum or Mike. Here we are, 16 weeks into the season, and do we really know the answer? Tatum has been over 100 yards six times, Mike has done it twice. Tatum has more yards (977 to 611) but Mike has more scores (8 to 2). Unless coach Mike Shanahan makes his intentions clear prior to draft day, I'll let somebody else play the guessing game with Denver. The possible reward just isn't worth the high risk. (Translation: I took Mike in the fourth round. Ouch!) Guys on teams that use the running back by committee approach are risky fantasy picks but, unfortunately, that's becoming more the norm than the exception.

Torch has been passed: Despite his injury woes, I've always been a huge fan of Jacksonville back Fred Taylor. He's completing his sixth 1,000-yard season. In his nine years, he's topped that magic mark every time he's been healthy enough to play in at least 12 games. But he's talked about retirement, and the Jags haven't restructured his contract, which still has a year left on it. It's Maurice Jones-Drew's time to be the man in teal.

Take Bills more seriously: Writing off most Buffalo players as fantasy options has been the proper strategy for the last few years. I won't be telling you that again next summer. Lee Evans, who will be a fourth-year wideout next season, will rightly be regarded a hot property. His totals against the Houston Texans on Nov. 19 -- 11 catches for 265 yards and two scores -- constituted the second-best fantasy performance ever by a Bills receiver, topped only by Jerry Butler's four-TD, 255-yard effort in 1979.

Be more aggressive: You should never trade out of panic during a slow start, but the other side of the coin is that you shouldn't become too content with early success. My team got off to a 9-2 start and I didn't pull the trigger on offers that could have landed me both Tennessee QB Vince Young and New York Jets WR Laveranues Coles. So when the Giants' Amani Toomer and New Orleans rookie phenom Marques Colston both were injured, I was left with Tennessee's Drew Bennett and the Saints' Terrance Copper as my starters at receiver plus a slumping Vick at QB for the first round of the playoffs. It was one and done. Now it's live and learn.


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