Last week, Ed Berliner and Doug Coutts touched upon a number of timely subjects. Check out the website at www.speedingbulletnetwork.com.
We dove right into a recap of the 2007 All-Fantasy Team (see separate article coming soon). Then we broke down, by position, how the thinking on draft day in 2007 played out.
Seven of the top ten overall fantasy scorers, and nine of the top fifteen, were quarterbacks. That’s right, 2007 was the year of the quarterback. Looking back to the 2007 cheat sheets,
Peyton Manning was at the top, and though his numbers weren’t gaudy, he didn’t disappoint, finishing as the second best player at his position. Rounding out the top 4 on draft day were
Tom Brady, Drew Brees, and Carson Palmer. We’ll talk in detail about Brady a little later, but these guys also didn’t disappoint. They were the top 4 on draft day in some order, and they finish the season as the top 4.
Moving onto the second tier on draft day, guys like
Tony Romo and
Matt Hasselbeck did not disappoint as they both finish in the top 10 at their position. In fact, one could argue that Romo exceeded his expectations, as especially early in the season, he was scoring in bunches.
As is always the case, there are quarterbacks that emerge from the depths of draft day cheat sheets to become solid fantasy starters, 2007 was no different.
Brett Favre and
Derek Anderson fit that bill this year., both finishing in the top 10 at the position. No one expected Favre to have the year that he did, on draft day he was an afterthought as even being a fantasy backup. As for Anderson, he wasn’t even a starter to begin the season for his NFL team, in fact, he was probably the third fantasy consideration on his own team! He got some playing time in week one, played great, and never looked back as he became a “must start” fantasy player.
Where did all the stud runningbacks go? If your fantasy draft was like 95% of the the fantasy drafts, then your first round went something like this: RB-RB-RB-RB-RB-RB-RB-RB-QB-RB-WR-RB…then a slew of RBs in the second round as well. It used to be that most of these guys could be counted on, what happened this year?
Let’s start at the top, and luckily for those with the top pick,
LaDainian Tomlinson did end up as the #2 fantasy player at his position. Rounding out the top five on draft day in some order were
Larry Johnson, Steven Jackson, Shaun Alexander, and Frank Gore. Gore had his moments as he did finish within the top 10 at the position. Jackson was just outside the top ten, but his owner had to survive the four weeks that he missed early in the season. Alexander and Johnson – ouch! Alexander was just horrible, and Johnson was ok until getting hurt and knocked out at mid-season.
The guys that round out the end of the season top 5, were second tier draft day guys.
Brian Westbrook, Clinton Portis, Joseph Addai, and Jamal Lewis. Westbrook ends the season as the top runningback, and #2 overall fantasy player. They fantasy owner that took a risk on the usually fragile Westbrook enjoyed a tremendous season. Addai put aside any sophomore jinx talk, and Portis and Lewis emerged as weekly studs.
Let’s talk about rookies. Every year there are four or five rookies that are the hot topics in fantasy circles, everyone wanting to be the smart owner to pick the rookie that ends up being a fantasy starter. There were a number of these guys to choose from, and this year two did emerge as fantasy players.
Adrian Peterson of Minnesota and
Marshawn Lynch were good enough to be weekly fantasy plays. Peterson was inconsistent from week to week, but when he was on, he was 200 yards and 3 TDs on. Lynch quietly had a solid fantasy season as well.
Also every year, the waiver wire ended up being a great place to find a starting fantasy runningback. The best of those was
Earnest Graham, who got the job due to some injuries in front of him, and he performed well enough to finish the season in the top ten at the position. Other guys that stepped up and were fantasy starters were
Ryan Grant, Kenny Watson, and Justin Fargas.
This was a position where the draft day rankings were no where close to how things ended up. The top three were
Steve Smith, Chad Johnson, and Marvin Harrison. Though Smith came out of the gates hot, these guys ended up as the #54, #26, and #101 ranked fantasy players respectively. Not good.
Who was good, was
Randy Moss. Rediculously good. He was probably ranked around #10 on draft day at the position, due to the questions surrounding him. Would he be able to put the horrible Oakland days behind him? How would he mesh as a “me player” on a “team player” team? Would he be able to follow the “Patriots Rules”? Yes, yes, and yes. Moss ends up the top player at his position, #4 overall.
Reggie Wayne and Terrell Owens were guys that performed about as well as expected. Wayne was around #15 on draft day, and perhaps buoyed by the absence of Harrison, he went on to have a very good fantasy season. Owens was within the top 5 on draft day, and he didn’t disappoint, finishing in the top 5.
This is a position where there are many sleepers to be found.
Braylon Edwards well exceeded his draft day expectations, as he finished the season as the #4 at his position.
Brandon Marshall and Wes Welker were also guys that emerged from the depths of draft day cheat sheets to finish as the #9 and #10 at the position. Welker in fact led the league in receptions with 112).
Not a lot of excitement came out of this position in 2007.
Antonio Gates was the clear #1 on draft day, and though he didn’t finish at the top, he didn’t disappoint that much, finishing at #2.
Jason Witten ended up #1, what a season he had as he now establishes himself as one of the elite tight ends. Rounding out the top five were, as expected,
Tony Gonzalez, Kellen Winslow, and Chris Cooley. Gonzalez very quietly kept putting up consistent numbers on a bad team. Winslow finally produced, and Cooley also did very well.
Draft day injury risks
Jeremy Shockey and Todd Heap continued to miss significant amounts of time. Going forward, they will continue to be draft day risks. Though there were many sleepers being touted on draft day, only
Owen Daniels and Donald Lee emerged as top 10 at the position. Lee really benefited from injury to become the sole starter for the Packers.
So What Does It All Mean?
Has Tom Brady singlehandedly altered the face of the 2008 fantasy draft? I think he might have. I’ll be getting into this in detail at a later date, but what an incredible season. I don’t need to rehash all the records that he broke in this space. Brady finishes the season as the far and away top fantasy performer overall. I know that in my scoring system, he finished 52 points (FIFTY-TWO!) higher than the second best fantasy point scorer, and 90 points (NINETY!) higher than the second best quarterback. Just staggering numbers.
As for everything else…we knew that injuries, especially to the top runningbacks, would happen. What we didn’t know is that not only would the top RBs get hurt, they’d also perform poorly. This just proves that once again, for runningbacks, fantasy owners need to spend some late draft picks on players that are the primary backup on their NFL team.
Back to the quarterbacks, what a season by so many. Draft day expectations were met or exceeded in most cases. Sure, there were a few disappointments and injuries, but by and large, 2007 proved to be the year of the quarterback. And as is always the case, there is a quarterback that goes undrafted that ends up being a top ten fantasy player. Owners need to continue to be on the lookout for this player early in the season. Owners should also continue to look for value at the quarterback position, making sure to get a solid backup to their stud QB. If and when this player develops into a fantasy starter, then trades can be made to shore up other team deficiencies.
Wide Receivers were very unpredictable in 2007. The top three were duds. Players emerged from the second tier, players emerged from deep down on draft day cheat sheets. This position more than any is not an exact science. Owners need to see who is hot early in the season and adjust accordingly. Don’t be afraid to settle for a handful of second or even third tier guys on draft day.
Very few sleeper tight ends emerged, in fact, very few tight ends produced at all this season. If you don’t end up getting one of the top six or seven, then grab a couple of sleepers late and hope they emerge as viable fantasy starters.