I don't know about you, but I am BORED. Since it's the All-Star break in baseball, it's the slowest time of year in sports. That's why I found myself, really for the first time (since I am so immersed in fantasy baseball), starting to think about the upcoming NFL season and my fantasy drafts. Then I thought if I'm in that boat, then many of you are as well. So I thought I'd write a blog to get myself pumped for the NFL season - and hopefully get you guys pumped by reading it. Here goes...
Cedric Benson is out of the picture in Chicago - not soon enough if you are a Bears' fan. Matt Forte has drawn raves from his work during minicamp and has the upside of a top 15 fantasy RB. That said, Adrian Peterson should steal carries (even though he isn't good enough to be much of a fantasy option himself), and Kevin Jones was just signed and has upside as a deep sleeper. A lot of this depends on Jones - if he starts out on PUP, I really like Forte as a 2RB.
After coming out of nowhere last year, Derek Anderson may be a bit overrated coming into this year. His YPA was elite in the first half of the year but below par in the second half, especially considering the options at his disposal, i.e. Edwards and Winslow. Plus Quinn is still in the picture. While the risk of Anderson losing PT to Quinn might seem smaller, it is greater than it is for some of the other "elite" fantasy QBs. I doubt Anderson winds up on many of my teams this year.
I wouldn't be too allured by the "upside" of Darren McFadden. With Russell at QB, the Raiders aren't going to score very much, McFadden is a little undersized, and Fargas, Jordan, and Bush are still there to get carries. I suspect that Steelers' draftee Rashard Mendenhall will put up better stats than McFadden.
If you got burned by Laurence Maroney last year, then you aren't alone. But last year is over. The Pats are going to be an offensive machine again, and Maroney is going to do better this year, if only because Brady won't throw 50 TDs again. That said, I fear Maroney will be TOO highly regarded as a sleeper, so much so that he will be over-hyped. He still has to prove he can stay healthy, and Belicheck has to prove that he trusts him to carry it 20 times per game in the regular season. I like Maroney in the late second round in standard leagues, not before.
What are the chances that Jamal Lewis duplicates his 2007 season (1300 rush yards, 11 total TDs)? Probably about the same as the Dolphins making the playoffs.
If you just looked at the Dolphins' schedule and tried to figure out their chances of making the playoffs, then you need more of a refresher than I am going to give you in this blog. I suggest you go read Rotowire's Draft Kit, soon! And avoid any big money leagues until you do.
I realize he is first-round talent, but I don't particularly want to spend my first round pick on Brian Westbrook. In my eyes he is still a diminutive, injury-prone RB. I'd rather spend my first-round choice on a guy I know is going to be a stud all year. Nothing's guaranteed in the NFL, I know, but why isn't Moss a better option than Westbrook (certainly in 3-WR leagues)?
Kurt Warner's stats were insane the second half of last year, and I'm not sure that anything will be different this year. Until Leinart proves differently, I still think Warner is the better QB. I'm not saying you can draft Warner as your starter or anyting, especially if he starts out the year on the bench, but drafting Warner as a reserve may pay off. At minimum, I'd be ready to pounce on him in free agency.
Let me be blunt. Edgerrin James sucks. His YPC is subpar, he doesn't get carries in the red zone, and he's now a year older. If you draft him as a starter, you will play in your league's Toilet Bowl. But this is just another reason to love Fitz and Boldin.
In nearly every league, somebody is going to think that Eli Manning is a good fantasy QB because of his playoff run last year. Don't let that guy be you.
Big Ben's YPA is elite. And I mean all-time elite. So while the addition of Mendenhall should mean that the Steelers run more often in the red zone, don't let Ben slip too far. Rotowire has him as the #9 QB right now on its Cheat Sheet, and I think that's too low.
Marvin Harrison is a name that you know. But names don't score fantasy points - players do. And right now Anthony Gonzalez is a better player and should be drafted higher.
If you don't know the name "Ryan Torain," you should. He might be starting at RB for Denver, and I don't need to tell you the success that Denver RBs have had under Shanahan (unless you are one of the guys who read the Dolphins' schedule, in which event I assure you that Denver RBs have done quite well).
Lee Evans had 1300 yards and 8 TDs two years ago. I say he is more likely to duplicate those stats than those from his disappointing 2007. If you disagree because Trent Edwards is the Bills' QB, don't sell Edwards short. He isn't Brady or Manning and probably won't ever be, but what he did last year as a rookie (especially the lack of turnovers) should translate well in his second year. Edwards might be backup material in standard leagues, especially those that penalize INTs.
Lots of people are down on Detroit's skill players because the new coaching regime is more run-oriented. I say it's still Detroit, and since they consistently suck, they will be behind in lots of games and have to throw often. Besides, one of these years, Roy Williams is going to put it all together and have 1300 yards and 10-12 TDs.
I'd be shocked if Greg Jennings scores 12 TDs again this year. He's a really good player and all, but the Packers won't throw as much in the red zone as they did in 2007, especially if Favre isn't starting. That's also another reason that I like Ryan Grant. (And if you don't like Ryan Grant, then go watch the replay of that Packers/Seahawks playoff game on NFL Network. I promise that you will change your mind.)
Please wait until the end of your draft to take a kicker. Someone like Brandon Coutu will emerge out of nowhere - just like Nick Folk did last year - and make you glad you did.
To those who say that Vince Young breaks out this year, I ask "Why should this year be any different?" Sure there's a new offensive coordinator, but the Titans made virtually no effort to add a decent WR and seem content to continue to try to win games 13-10. Young is currently the 14-ranked QB on our cheatsheet, and I think that's too high.
Include me among the guys who would draft Adrian Peterson before LT. RBs often fall off a cliff as they approach LT's age, and LT hasn't exactly had a light workload the past several years. LT is still elite, of course, but I'd take Peterson first (without thinking twice).
That does not mean, however, that I wouldn't trade Peterson (after he has one of his huge games) for another stud RB (like Addai) and an upgrade at WR. As Tarvaris Jackson struggles with his consistency, Peterson will be inconsistent as well (just like last year), and it's hard to win 2 or 3 games in the fantasy playoffs when your best player is inconsistent.
I really want to own Andre Johnson the year that he starts 16 games with a decent QB.
The Buffalo Bills will win the Super Bowl this year.
OK, maybe not, but it's my blog, and if I want to end it with a ridiculous statement, but one that I enjoyed typing, then you can't stop me. =)
Posted by Mark Stopa at 7/15/2008 8:36:00 PM