Many of you have been patiently asking, and my sincerest apologies for not having enough time each week to put something out there for you dynsaty leaguers out there during the regular season. My thanks for all the inquiries that have unfortunately gone unanswered. However, now that the season is over it’s a perfect time to start thinking about stuff like this as it comes in handy for not only those of you dynasty players, but also you folks that are already starting to think ahead about your keepers for next year.
By request, slight change in the rankings this time around as we’ll be making our lists strictly by position. We’ll list them top to bottom, the top player being the guy we’d keep if we could only keep one guy at the position, the next guy being the second guy we’d keep at the position, etc down the line. I’ll not be going thru a list of kickers, team defenses, or individual defenses (sorry!).
In addition, I will be breaking down the positions into three levels, First Tier, Second Tier, Third Tier. The First Tier will consist of the best players at the position. They may not necessarily be studs, but anyone in this tier can be counted on to produce fantasy points every week for your team. These are the guys that are going to win you championships in the near term. The Second Tier will consist of guys that could be used in your starting lineup from time to time based on matchups, bye weeks, etc. They are not guys that you can really count on to get you to the championship, but guys that can help you out in a pinch. The Third Tier will consist of guys that are strictly long term potential players, rookies and young players that haven’t quite been given a chance yet. These are the players that are going to keep your team at the top down the road so you definately don’t want to overlook anyone here.
As always, your suggestions and comments are more than welcome at email@example.com.
On to the show!
Daunte Culpepper, Minnesota
Yes, Peyton is having an incredible season, but check the numbers, he was still only the second best fantasy producer in 2004. Culpepper can get it done so many ways, I’m shaking my head knowing that he put up the numbers he did this year without a healthy Randy Moss.
Peyton Manning, Indianapolis
Obviously a season for the NFL record books and a strong season in the fantasy realm. The Colts have locked up Harrison and soon make sure that the Edge will also still be in the fold so Manning should continue to be one of the top producers at the position for years to come.
Donovan McNabb, Philadelphia – McNabb owners will have a hard time getting the sour taste of week 15 from their mouths when Andy Reid only let him play the first series…that aside, McNabb continues to produce both in the air and on the ground.
Michael Vick, Atlanta
Struggled at the beginning of this season, but in the open field there isn’t a better runner out there that I can think about. On games he only puts up 100 thru the air, he has the potential to make up for it by running for 100 and a score. Seeminly has learned how to keep himself healthy which is an added bonus.
Tom Brady, New England
Didn’t put up the flashy fantasy numbers in 2004 that he did the year before, but that’s due to the fact that the Patriots went out and got Brady a bonified RB. No longer did they have to throw the WR screen on first down to try and gain the five yards that they can now gain by handing off to Corey Dillon. Brady is incredibly durable and can still put up a strong week’s worth of fantasy numbers despite not having a real threat at WR.
Matt Hasselbeck, Seattle
I’m not sure why, but I’m giving Hass the benefit of the doubt this season. Nothing great to look back on in 2004 for him, but nothing regarding his long term prospects have really changed. He is a top QB that should continue to produce for many years.
Jake Delhomme, Carolina
This was my big sleeper in redraft leagues in 2004 and his late season surge has not disappointed me. Delhomme has established himself as a solid QB and should continue to produce in the future.
Brett Favre, Green Bay – This is the guy I spent the most time deciding on where he belonged. He’s having a great season, but how long can this last? One more season? Two more? If Favre is the only guy you have on your team from this First Tier, then you would be wise to start looking for youth that can be used in the near future.
Trent Green, Kansas City
Once again, Green has quietly gone out and had an outstanding fantasy season. Not much fanfare, especially since the Chiefs aren’t playoff bound, but to the fantasy world he is still a solid starter.
Marc Bulger, St.Louis – Bulger pretty much put to rest any doubts that he could be a starting QB in the NFL. The Rams took a chance and shipped Kurt Warner out and Bulger rewarded them with a very nice season. Looks like Bugler will be a fixture in St.Louis for at least the near future.
Aaron Brooks, new Orleans
Brooks breaks into this tier, barely. Hard to quantify what is going on with Brooks and things could really go in either direction. Next year he could come out and have a season to make you forget this one even happened, or he could lay an egg early on and be out of a starting job. Could go either way and right now I’m 50-50 on the subject.
Jake Plummer, Denver
I don’t think there is going to be much argument out there that Plummer belongs on the list above. He’s put together a decent season this year, occassionally putting up the big week, but also occassionally disappearing. He’s just not a guy that at this point in time I would trust as the top QB on my dynasty roster.
Drew Brees, San Diego
Another increadible sleeper in 2004 that has well exceeded the wildest of wild expectations. And yet, Philip Rivers is clearly going to be the QB of the future in San Diego. When the future is is anyone’s guess, especially since the Chargers want to bring Brees back. In the age of the salary cap, no team can afford two high priced QBs for more than one season, it just doesn’t work. Brees has definately played himself into a nice contract, maybe even in San Diego, but I’d be worried about what could happen to him in 2007 and beyond, after all, this is the first year he’s produced since coming into the league. And does San Diego really want to break the bank with him after a disappointing first round loss in the playoffs?
Byron Leftwich, Jacksonville
Call me crazy, but I have a good feeling about the future of Leftwich. No, I don’t think he’ll ever put up huge fantasy numbers, but I just see him as a guy that is above average and plays for a very long time, a guy that could make his way into the Top Tier and stay there for many years.
David Carr, Houston
Hasn’t done much yet in either direction. In other words, he hasn’t solidified himself as a top fantasy QB, on the other hand he has proved that he still belongs in the NFL as a starting QB. Not sure if that makes any sense.
Chad Pennington, NY Jets
Many will point to the resurgence of Curtis Martin as the reason for Pennington’s fantasy decline, I will point out that Pennington just wasn’t that good in the first place. Is he a bonified starter in the NFL? Of course. Is he one of the top fantasy QBs? No. Could he become one someday? I’m not so sure.
Carson Palmer, Cincinnati
Strange as it may seem, time is running out for Palmer to prove himself as a top QB. Now that he’s got a full season under his belt, expectations are going to be high for next year and if he can’t attain them, he could be gone.
Joey Harrington, Detroit
Here’s another guy that time may be running out on. Every year he loses his top WR early in the season, but this year the Lions have added a legitimate threat from the RB spot. There will be no excuses for Harrington next year, another that will either have to put up or get out of the game.
Jeff George, Chicago
Aww, just kidding, wanted to make sure you were still reading.
Drew Bledsoe, Buffalo
A strong middle and second half of the season for Bledsoe and the Bills has prolonged Drew’s hold on the starting job in Buffalo, maybe even for another season. If nothing else, he has proved that he can still play but if he continues to be in Buffalo, his time could come to a close at any time.
Kerry Collins, Oakland – Strange to even see Collins on this list, eh? It was really a given that he would eventually become the starter in Oakland this season, and he even put up a few great weeks, including a fantasy stunner in the snow of Denver. He’ll once again have to prove himself, but of all the guys in this tier, Collins I think has the most upside. He’s done it before and can do it again.
Ben Roethlisberger, Pittsburgh
Let the angry emails begin!!! Look, Big Ben has had a great rookie season, who’d have thought he would step into the starters role and not lose a game? But that’s just it, he’s being asked to ‘not lose this game’. The Steelers are a run first team, as indicated by Pittsburgh even running old man Jerome Bettis rather than let Big Ben air it out. Don’t get me wrong, it looks like this kid will be in the league for a long time, but I just wonder if he’ll ever be a guy that can produce high fantasy numbers, that’s all.
Steve McNair, Tennessee
When he’s healthy, McNair can be a dominant fantasy producer. I think we can all agree that his days of being healthy all season are long gone, and in fact he’s probably heading towards the clubhouse in the NFL career version of golf. Could end soon, maybe even after one more season.
Kyle Boller, Baltimore/AJ Feeley, Miami
I suppose I need to include these guys on this list, not exactly sure why. I’d be looking into a Third Tier prospect before I’d keep either of these two.
Tim Rattay, San Francsico
I know, I know, I was on this guy’s bandwagon before the season even began and no, I haven’t got off yet. The Niners have played themselves into a good draft day position, but I really think their QB of the present and future is right here. He’s proven when healthy that he can put up above average fantasy numbers, of course, therein lies the rub, staying healthy. Don’t give up on him yet, give him one more season to see what happens.
Patrick Ramsey, Washington
I guess you can do worse than a guy who has already been named the 2005 opening day starter. Ramsey is another like Rattay that he’s shown flashes of brilliance, but keeping him on the field is a problem. Another of the “one more year” guys.
Eli Manning, NY Giants
I wasn’t a big Eli Manning fan when he was drafted eventually by the Giants, and I still am not impressed. Yes, the Giants have struggled in many facets of the game. Obviously if you have Manning you are stuck with him since you probably used a high pick on him, but I’m just not sure he’s a guy that will move into the fantasy elite at QB, especially for the Giants.
Chris Simms, Tampa Bay
Simms caught an unlucky break in that Brian Griese stepped in and put together a couple of nice games, that will come to an end if it already hasn’t. Simms has tremendous bloodlines and while I don’t see him ever becoming a top 3 fantasy QB, a solid guy in the top-10 is not out of the question.
Luke McCown, Cleveland
The Browns are a mess, that’s no secret. McCown looked great in the pre-season, but Cleveland had already made the mistake known as Jeff Garcia. I highly doubt Garcia will be back, even so, he’s old as the hills. That said, McCown may or may not even get a chance to win the starting job so keep an eye on things.
Matt Schaub, Atlanta
If it weren’t for a guy named Michael Vick being the starter in front of him, more people would know about Matt Schaub. He’s stuck in a situation where he’s not going to play when Vick is healthy. However, I wouldn’t be surprised if 2-3 years down the road another team takes a chance on him, ala. Matt Hasselbeck going from the backup in Green Bay to the starter in Seattle. Worth holding onto the guy if you can spare the roster space.
Philip Rivers, San Diego/JP Loseman, Buffalo
Tough to figure out where on this list a guy belongs if he hasn’t seen any playing time. Hold onto these two and watch the Brees and Bledsoe situations to see if/when they will get a chance to play.
Drew Henson, Dallas
There’s a reason that the Cowboys took a chance on this guy, they must see something that gives them an indication he can play in this league. He certainly didn’t show it this year, but come on, there will come a time when Vinny Testaverde is not going to be the starter.