Let’s get this started!! It’s never too early to start talking about rankings, sleepers, and busts. I have been in quite a few drafts already, and I also had the opportunity to participate in a video draft guide talking about the current state of things. In order to expand a bit upon the short sound bites I provided, I thought it’d be a good idea to share and expand upon some of my thoughts here. Since it is a little early, we’ll only go thru my top five at each position (I know, I know, probably not revealing much!), but I’ll also throw in some players that I think could surprise from lower down on your cheatsheet. We’ll crank these articles out one at a time by position, then we’ll talk about some sleepers, as well as some players that I’m already seeing being drafted too high. As always, your thoughts, comments, and reaction is welcome!
Tom Brady (NE)
For the first time in a long time, there is a name other than “Manning” at the top of the quarterback list, and with good reason. After a record breaking regular season for Tom Brady in 2007, there’s nothing to suggest that the New England offense will take their foot off the gas pedal in 2008. I wouldn’t expect another season of record breaking numbers, but Brady is once again poised to be the top fantasy performer at the QB position. The key position players are all returning, Randy Moss, Wes Welker, Laurence Maroney, and “miscellaneous RB that will reduce Maroney’s workload and fantasy value”. True, Donte Stallworth has moved on to Cleveland, but he wasn’t much of a factor in the Patriot offense. Brady will be the top fantasy quarterback, and we finally have a second possible non-RB to select in the first round of fantasy drafts.
Peyton Manning (Ind)
A close 1A to Brady’s 1, is Peyton Manning. Last season, he proved that even without a healthy Marvin Harrison in the lineup that he can find a way to put up great fantasy numbers as Reggie Wayne really stepped up his game. Though there are questions about Harrison, this shouldn’t affect Manning’s numbers. Joseph Addai is once again poised to have a great season, and his ability to catch the ball out of the backfield only helps Manning’s value. And let’s not forget that the Colts pass catching tight end in Dallas Clark. The beat will go on for Manning and the Colts offense, and Manning should join Brady as being the two quarterbacks head and shoulders above the rest at their position.
Tony Romo (Dal)
A notch below the big two, we have Tony Romo. We’ll try to keep the Jessica Simpson references to a minimum, regardless if she is or isn’t in the picture, Romo and the Cowboys offense are positioned to have another very successful 2008. Normally a change in coaching staff might adversely affect a team, but in the case of the Dallas offense, the players are already established so we don’t see them missing a beat. Terrell Owens, Patrick Crayton, and of course, Jason Witten will be the main targets. Dallas continues to have a couple guys at RB to help out Romo, Marion Barber and rookie Felix Jones should see plenty of action out of the backfield.
Drew Brees (NO)
Perhaps just a hair behind Romo, a very small hair, is Drew Brees. The Saints were one of the league’s most prolific offenses in 2007, that should continue to be the case in 2008. Brees completed a record 443 passes last year, though we think the New Orleans passing attack won’t be as aggressive in 2008, we do believe that Brees will continue to be a safe top 5 fantasy QB. Reggie Bush proved to be a more than adequate pass catcher out of the backfield, re-add Duece McAllister and wide outs Marques Colston and David Patten all add up to an offense that will be difficult to stop.
Carson Palmer (Cin)
I’m a little surprised that people has such a short memory of Carson Palmer. Before his knee injury, he was the guy knocking on Peyton Manning’s door step as the #2 fantasy quarterback. As always, there is some underlying tension in Cincinnati, namely this year, the Chad Johnson situation. I don’t see this, or anything for that matter, bringing down the Bengals passing attack. With or without Johnson, Palmer should be able to put up numbers, making him my #5 overall fantasy quarterback. Cincinnati has a capable rushing attack headed by Rudi Johnson, and with or without Chad, the wide outs are there. The Bengals took three rookies at the position on draft day, TJ Houshmandzadeh is still there, so with or without CJ, Palmer will be ok.
Not able to get any of the top five on draft day? Or, if you’re like me, like to bulk up on other positions and then dip into the quarterback pool late in the draft? Here are a few players that should outperform their draft day ranking, guys that have proven they belong in the NFL, and guys that are coming off injury riddled 2007 seasons…
David Garrard (Jax)
Garrard more than proved that himself to be a quality NFL QB with an amazing 102.2 rating and only 3 interceptions thrown all season. The Jaguars have reloaded the passing game, with speedsters Jerry Porter, Troy Williamson and Reggie Williams all now in Jacksonville. Fred Taylor and Maurice Jones-Drew are the backbone of a solid running game, so Garrard has all the pieces in place to surprise this year. I have him just outside my top ten at the position, don’t be afraid to wait until the middle rounds of the draft to grab him as your starter.
Jake Delhomme (Car)
The Panthers fell apart without Delhomme in 2007. Carolina was one of the top offenses in the league when both he and Steve Smith were healthy. He’s on track for a healthy start to 2008, and let’s not forget that this guy has put up great numbers in the past. A solid offensive line is in place to protect him for the upcoming season, so Delhomme should be another one of those mid-to-late round guys that could put up enough numbers to be a fantasy starter.
Donovan McNabb (Phi)
McNabb is a guy that many fantasy owners have grown tired of and will avoid. Not a stellar 2007 campaign, one that was filled with rumors of it being his last in Philadelphia. Despite the bad situation, McNabb and the Eagles put together a competitive second half of the season that not only gave hope for the 2008 season, but has brought McNabb some love from the City of Brotherly Love. Though the core at wide out isn’t the greatest, Brian Westbrook more than makes up for that deficiency, and a healthy and happy Donovan McNabb is poised to be a guy that is back into the top 10 fantasy players at his position.
Marc Bulger (StL)
Nothing went right for Bulger and the Rams last season. Injuries struck early and often, including two stretches where Bulger missed time, and the St.Louis offense never got it going in 2007. A new season brings new hope, and health, and the Rams are in position to once again prove that they have one of the best offenses in the league. Steven Jackson and Torry Holt should be ready to go, as should Bulger so don’t be afraid to claim Bulger and watch as he proves that he belongs as one of the top 10 in fantasy as his position.