Fantasy tips for the clueless

Yet again, fantasy football saves the day.

As a Cincinnati Reds fan, the month of August usually spells the end of the road for the Redlegs. It also spells the beginning of the fantasy football season for the exhausted Cincinnati fan.

I’m a fantasy nut; whether it’s football, baseball or basketball, I usually occupy multiple teams in various leagues.

Although it’s getting to the point where nobody is new to fantasy football, here is a guide of players to surprise at each important position this season.

Quarterback

Matt Ryan, Atlanta Falcons

Ryan enters his sophomore season after impressing the fantasy galaxy with his composure and consistency during a fine rookie year. Ryan never threw more than two touchdowns in a game last season, but I expect that to change with the addition of super-tight end Tony Gonzalez.

Running back

Pierre Thomas, New Orleans Saints

Thomas swept the starting job from under the feet of Reggie Bush after dominating the ground game while Bush sat on the sidelines. The 24-year-old Thomas ran for 475 yards and six touchdowns over his final six games of 2008. He’s a back that should be plucked between rounds two and four, but Thomas has the potential to finish as one of the top backs in the league.

Wide receiver

Eddie Royal, Denver Broncos

Royal burst onto the fantasy radar with a huge opening performance last year with a 146-yard night. With the addition of quarterback Kyle Orton, Royal’s route running and sure hands will be used a ton. The second-year wideout put together quite a rookie season, and I expect Royal to add to his early success.

Tight end

Anthony Fasano, Miami Dolphins

Any tight end paired with the arm of quarterback Chad Pennington is good with me. Fasano caught seven touchdowns in ‘08 while splitting time with David Martin. I’m expecting Fasano to earn the bulk of field time because of his superior pass-catching skills. The Dolphins lack a legit red zone target from their wide receivers, so Fasano should get most of the looks.

Defense

Cincinnati Bengals

With a lack of a pass rush in 2008, the Bengals still ranked No. 12 in overall defense last season. The addition of linebacker Rey Maualuga and the return of Keith Rivers and Chinedum Ndukwe might boost Cincinnati into the top-ten in the league. Take a chance and it might pay off.

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