Zuri Berry: For fantasy football, Russell’s a bust too | TheUnion.com
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Zuri Berry: For fantasy football, Russell’s a bust too

If you’re an Oakland Raiders fan, there’s a scary trend going on that you should already be aware of: Nobody is drafting JaMarcus Russell in fantasy football.

Scratch that, people are drafting him, but not until they’ve picked up “good” quarterbacks first. There’s always that off chance that Russell is a sleeper, but from the sheer looks of things he’s in the doghouse of the fantasy football gods and there’s no helping him before the season starts.

In three preseason games, the 2007 No. 1 overall draft pick has completed 26-of-50 passes for 228 yards and one touchdown, one interception and one fumble.



The 6-foot, 6-inch behemoth has been plagued by the lack of experienced receivers around him. He’s got Javon Walker as his top target with Ronald Curry as his No. 2 and a host of no-names to follow after a season-ending injury to Drew Carter last week.

The ongoing troubles for the Raiders have equated into a host of fans becoming more and more skeptical of the big quarterback, because in general he hasn’t shown what he can do even if he did have talent around him.




Of the projected starting quarterbacks in the NFL, only Marc Bulger of the St. Louis Rams has a lower passer rating in the interim season (61.7). Russell’s is 62.8.

Don’t think that’s reason enough to worry about him? How about the missed throws, the hesitation in his delivery and the fact that he’s playing for the Raiders.

For goodness sake, he looks like a high school quarterback dressed up as a refrigerator.

His poor quarterback play and the injuries around him have created a disgusting backbite in which fantasy football leaguers are having a hard time swallowing. On average, Russell is being selected 134th overall on ESPN.com leagues with a 25 percent ownership rate. On Yahoo! Sports, while not giving an average draft position, touts that Russell is only owned in 28 percent of its leagues.

If it makes Raiders fans feel any better, Alex Smith of the San Francisco 49ers has a 4 percent ownership rate in Yahoo! and 7 percent in ESPN.

As any true fan will tell you, the fantasy numbers don’t lie. Folks are smelling the odor of bad quarterback stench and aren’t taking chances this season. Not after a year with Donovan McNabb, Jon Kitna and, well, Alex Smith.

It was all particularly glaring after two of my fantasy leagues had drafts last weekend. In one league, amongst 14 co-workers and colleagues in this area, Russell was selected 205th overall (the 15th round) by a diehard Raiders fan. In my second draft, a 20-person league with various sports writers across the country, Russell went 210th overall in the 11th round.

Look, none of this means squat in the real world. But when millions of football fans ” diehard football fans ” are not pledging faith to a former No. 1 overall draft in his second year, it’s cause for serious pause. I’m pretty sure, as many folks have already determined, that it’s going to be a long season for the Raiders.

On the upside, Darren McFadden looks like a keeper in a run-oriented offense.

Zuri Berry is a sports writer at The Union. His column appears Wednesdays. You can also read his blog online at TheUnion.com/blogs/sports. You can contact Zuri via e-mail at zberry@theunion.com or call 477-4244.


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