We continue our early season discussion, talking about rankings, sleepers, and busts. To review, 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. Though it is a bit early, we’ve already gone thru my top five at each position (I know, I know, probably did not reveal much!), and now we’re ready to discuss Sleepers and Under Valued players at any position. As always, your thoughts, comments, and reaction is welcome!
QB 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 added to go along with Reggie Williams. Word is that Williams is looking great, this is very good news for the prospective Garrard owner. Look for Garrard to be consistently good week in and week out in 2008.
QB Jake Delhomme (Car)
The Panthers fell apart without Delhomme in 2007. Reports are that he’s on track for a healthy start to 2008. Carolina was one of the top offenses in the league when he and Steve Smith were healthy, with Delhomme quietly performing as one of the top fantasy QBs. A solid offensive line is in place to protect him for the upcoming season, look for Delhomme to rebound back into the outskirts of the top 10 fantasy QBs.
QB Donovan McNabb (Phi)
McNabb quieted all the talk of him going to another team by closing out 2007 with a bang. Now two years removed from ACL surgery, McNabb should be healthy and hungry in 2008. Very early drafts had him outside the top 10, I’m seeing his stock steadily rise so he should be well within the top ten on draft day. Don’t let any lingering injury concerns, especially him resting his shoulder this spring, adversely affect where you select him on draft day. McNabb should have a very good campaign in 2008.
QB Aaron Rodgers (GB)
For the first time in a long time, someone other than #4 will be under center for the Packers on opening day….or will they?? That discussion is for another place and another time….but, should the dust settle and Rodgers end up as the man in Green Bay, good things will happen for his fantasy owner. Green Bay has plenty of capable receivers, as well as an established running attack to complement the passing game, grab Rodgers as your QB2 in the late rounds and enjoy.
QB Vince Young (Ten)
With a new offensive coordinator in place, and some better offensive weapons, look for Young to improve upon a disastrous 2007. Young is still very, um, young, don’t be afraid to make him a mid-round selection as your QB1 on draft day.
QB Jay Cutler (Den)
Cutler had an admirable season in 2007, considering the trouble that the Broncos had with their WRs and RBs. Look for Denver to stabilize those positions, which should make life easier on Cutler as he continues to settle in as the starter.
RB Edgerrin James (Ari)
Though it is true, James is in the twi-light of his career, and he is coming off a down year in 2007. In early drafts that I’ve been involved in, and even in some of the recent one’s that I’ve participated in, he’s not getting much respect (many I’ve seen him go in the late fourth round). He has topped 1100 yards for the past five seasons, and with a better settled situation at QB, his numbers should rise in 2008. Especially those of you drafting at the end of the first round in a serpentine draft, guys like James will be there for you in the 3rd/4th round turn so you can get some of the top WRs in the 1st/2nd and then get a guy like James as your “late” RB1.
RB Ryan Grant (GB)
Last year’s free agent sensation is looking to keep that going in 2008. As long as he’s signed and in training camp, we see no reason he can’t continue to emerge and be the #1 RB for the Packers. Many will argue that he doesn’t belong on a sleeper/undervalued list, but I’m finding that it’s either feast or famine opinions on Grant. Owners think he will absolutely continue what he started last year, others think that he will fall off the map and be a complete bust, there are very few opinions in the middle. I think Grant will be able to keep it going, regardless of the circus that’s been going on regarding the QB so I consider him a very safe top selection at RB.
RB Julius Jones (Sea)
Jones will be the starter in Seattle. I’m not buying into Mike Holmgren’s public discussion regarding RBBC. True, there will be plenty of competition in the form of TJ Duckett, Leonard Weaver, and Maurice Morris, no doubt a few TDs at the very least going away from the starter. However, the Seahawks offense is more suited to Jones’ skill set than was Dallas so Jones should be able to establish himself as the starter and full time guy. Not to mention that he is a very capable receiver out of the backfield and Seattle will be able to use this ability to the fullest.
RB Selvin Young (Den)
Mike Shanahan will keep fantasy owners guessing until the very end, but with Travis Henry out of the picture, Young is proclaiming that he can run for 2000 yards in 2008. I’m not sure that we see that much from the youngster, but he will certainly have the inside track to the Broncos starting position when camp opens. Always a dicey situation drafting a Denver RB, but my belief is that Young will nail down the job and bring back some stability to a position that has been known to give the fantasy owner many benefits.
RB Ricky Williams (Mia)
It’s not a stretch to suggest Williams as the starter for the Dolphins in 2008. Yes, Ronnie Brown will be in the mix, but this is shaping up to be a classic running back by committee situation. Williams will get his touches and with Brown coming off surgery, nothing is guaranteed that he’ll be at full strength for the entire season. Williams is definitely worth a flyer on draft day.
RB Sammy Morris (NE)
Laurence Maroney hasn’t proven that he can carry the complete load, and it doesn’t seem like Bill Belichick wants him to do that anyway. He likes to rotate the ball amongst his RBs, Morris proved that he can do the job in spurts, look for him to continue to see some action in 2008. Morris is another guy that is worth a flyer on draft day for those games that Maroney does not suit up.
WR Steve Smith (Car)
Don’t forget that his 2006 campaign that had him well within the ranks of the top 10 fantasy players overall. A healthy Jake Delhomme and a running game for defenses to be forced to focus on, Smith could easily return to “best WR in league” status so don’t forget him on draft day. I have him as #3 on my WR list, many will say that I’m relying too much on the Panthers passing game, I say hogwash! Take him as the 3rd WR and enjoy!
WR Donte Stallworth (Cle)
Stallworth was content to be a team player in New England last year, which meant that unless your name was Randy Moss or Wes Welker, then you didn’t see much of the ball. He should emerge as a clear #2 for the Browns, and with Braylon Edwards demanding the attention of defenses, Stallworth should excel for a team that continues to improve.
WR Torry Holt (StL)
A bit of a down year for Holt in 2007, “only” 90 catches and just under 1200 yards. Look for Holt to rebound in 2008 and return as one of the top fantasy WRs. He should be right around the #10 WR selected, take him without hesitation.
WR Vincent Jackson (SD)
Jackson finished the season strong, including 93 yards in the Chargers playoff loss to New England. Look for Jackson to continue to improve and become a solid fantasy starter. Jackson will be a solid WR2/WR3 for the fantasy owner in 2008, not bad for a guy that many cheatsheets have as being ranked around 35-40 on the WR list.
WR Reggie Williams (Jax)
As the Jaguars offense continues to improve, look for William’s numbers to rise. He’s pretty much locked in as one of Jacksonville’s starters, look for him to have a surprisingly good 2008 campaign as the Jaguars offense becomes more consistent.
TE Owen Daniels (Hou)
Owens should be able to build upon his 700+ yards in 2007 as Houston continues to improve their offense. Don’t be afraid to pass on the top 5 TEs and select Daniels in the late rounds as your starter.
TE Donald Lee (GB)
Lee took advantage of the injury to Bubba Franks and established himself as the starter for the Packers. Though they’ll have a new quarterback, Green Bay has signed him to a long term contract and cleared the roster of any other competition he might have in 2008. Lee is another guy like Daniels that can be had in the later rounds as your starting TE.
TE Zach Miller (Oak)
The Raiders offense took their lumps in 2007, but Miller was still able to acquire 400+ yards. Look for Miller’s numbers to improve dramatically as JaMarcus Russell continues to get more experience.