I will start with a player who is getting much love from fantasy owners around the nation this offseason,
Maurice Jones-Drew. I will be the first to say, his running style, quickness, explosiveness and short-burst power is one of a kind in the NFL. The Jaguars offensive line in ‘08 was in shambles and he still managed RB9 ranking. With that said, there are signs pointing to disappointment for people drafting him in the Top 5 for 2009. Let’s start with the fact that he has never carried the ball even 200 times in any given year. In his three years as a Jaguar, each year his carries have gone up, and each year his yards per carry have went down. In 2008, he set a career high with 62 receptions, but he also set a career low with 9.1 yards per reception. MJD cashed in 14 touchdowns in 2008; the problem was eight of those came inside the five-yard line, with only one being from over 20 yards out. In his first two years in the league, he had seven scores from beyond 20 yards. In 2008, for MJD, the fourth quarter was his worst quarter by far, rushing for a mediocre 3.6 yards per carry and only managing one rushing touchdown the entire season. Whereas in ‘07 and ‘06 he averaged 5 and 4.7 yards per carry in the fourth quarter, respectively. It is also worth mentioning that half of his rushing scores on the season came in the three games against the Bengals, Lions and Broncos. While many believe a huge opportunity to increase in workload will surely translate into Top 5 RB numbers, evidence thus far in his career suggest he will not be as big as a playmaker, have a worse YPC average, will wear down late in games and probably as the season progresses … all things I would not want in a guy I was drafting with an early first-round pick.
Let’s talk about the wide receiver position for a bit. Last year gives us an indication of just how this position works from year to year. Of the Top 12 WR’s taken last year according to ADP, the players you would consider a WR1 on your fantasy roster, only half of those 12 even managed a Top 30 ranking at their position! More importantly, to us though, is the fact that in a standard 12-team league, exactly half (10 of 20) of the Top 20 wide outs at their position were drafted in the fifth round or later. This is telling us there are many opportunities to grab a wide receiver or two in the middle-to-late rounds and have them put up very solid numbers. I will go ahead and give you a few names to keep in mind:
Donald Driver – It is seriously mind-boggling that he is going in the eighth and ninth rounds. The guy was targeted his lowest amount of times in six years and still managed a WR23 finish. Greg Jennings will be the man getting all the attention this year, and Driver will either duplicate or improve on last years numbers. His career yards per catch average is 13.8 and last year he averaged 13.7, he has not slowed down just yet folks.
Anthony Gonzalez – This one is so obvious it is almost not worth mentioning. He is being drafted in the seventh round right now, which is simply too late. Gonzalez caught 57 of his 79 targets last year, an incredible 72% rate. His number of targets will easily get over 100 and might even approach 115 in 2009. That would equate to around 80 grabs. In the eight games last year where he was targeted five or more times, he averaged 9.35 points per game. Over a full season that would put him ranked as the No. 15 WR in fantasy football.
Bernard Berrian – Even more incredible than an obvious guy getting ready to breakout going in the seventh round is a proven guy going in the late sixth. Berrian had 990 total yards and seven scores last year despite having seven contests where he failed to reach even 50 yards. He was probably the most inconsistent WR that finished in the Top 20. With that said, he was a Top 20 WR but is being drafted as a guy who can barely crack the Top 30. Berrian has improved his fantasy football rankings in each of the last three years. The Vikings have already and might continue to improve their QB position this offseason; that should lead to more consistency and a higher completion rate to Berrian. The Vikings badly need to get the ball to Berrian as indicated by his stats in their 10 wins (730 yards, 6 TD), as opposed to their seven losses (297 yards, 1 TD). So no matter who is lining up under center on Sunday for the Vikings, expect Brad Childress to get Berrian the football.
– Walter’s ADP thus far in fantasy drafts is about 95 overall. He is being taken as the number 35 ranked WR. Funny because this man has had back to back 800+ yard receiving season, and in 2008 showed that he is one of the main cogs in the Texans new explosive offense. Walter made the most of his 63 touches last season, finishing as the number 19 ranked wide out in football. While defenses double team
Andre Johnson, stack the box to stop
Steve Slaton and guard the middle of the field against
Owen Daniels, Walter is terrorizing the backside of the defense. Andre Johnson was targeted 28 times in the redzone, catching 6 scores while Walter was targeted 23 catching 5 TD’s. Don’t think for a minute Walter can’t once again improve his number by flying under the radar and making big plays with his 15.0 yard per catch average.
So even though the consensus on
Brett Favre’s comeback with the Jets is that it was a failure, everyone seems to agree he was the reason behind
Thomas Jones’ career year. After the Jets’ Week 5 bye, Brett had only 260 yards passing one time, while Jones racked up four 100-yard rushing days, scoring TDs in seven of his 10 outings. Jones did his best work when the Jets were either tied or leading; scoring 12 of his 15 touchdowns. Favre was not the reason for the huge season; the O-line, fullback and Mr. Jones himself were the cause.
Kurt Warner has played 30 games the past two seasons, averaging almost 4,000 yards and 29 touchdowns in those two seasons. If his name was
Peyton Manning his ADP would be 25, but since it’s Warner, his ADP is 41, much too low for a man who (including the postseason) had eight 300-yard passing performances and 14 multi-touchdown games in 2008.
I never thought I would say this but I like the Lions chances of producing some real fantasy stars on offense this year.
Calvin Johnson is the no-brainer, but it is
Kevin Smith I’m excited about here. Expect Kevin to reproduce his last eight games for an entire season in 2009. He is very durable, proved he can handle the load and is versatile. Smith was consistent with his yardage, having over 85 total yards in every game from Week 10 on except for one outing against Mr. Haynesworth and the Titans.