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Making a Comeback

Here I will take a look at 2 players from the fantasy positions of QB, RB, WR, and TE, and give my thoughts on why they are in line for a comeback season.

 

Quarterback

 

Marc Bulger –

St. Louis Rams

2007 stats: 221-378, 2,392 YDS, 199.3 YPG, 11 TD, 15 INT

 

The Rams started off the year as a potential NFC-favorite (Shannon Sharpe of CBS Sports had them in the Super Bowl), but the season quickly went downhill.

  It’s hard to believe they lost their first 8 games before finally beating the Saints in November.

  Injuries all along the offensive line, most notably to All-Pro Orlando Pace, made Bulger a tacking dummy for much of the year.

  To his credit, he kept coming back to play despite broken ribs, a concussion, and a lousy team record.

  He showed his leadership in spite of playing for a train wreck of a team.

 

Isaac Bruce is gone, but Torry Holt is still one of the top WR’s in the league.

  Stephen Jackson will be back, and teams will need to gameplan against his versatility again.

  But, the biggest addition will be coordinator Al Saunders, who was mostly known for turning the Chiefs into a high-octane offense a few years back.

  His vision alone makes Bulger better.

 

The schedule also helps Bulger, as 9 games will be in a dome (8 home and 1 in

Atlanta).

  The last 7 games of the year will be in a dome or in warm weather, with the last potentially bad weather stadium in

New York against the Jets on November 8.

  Lots of factors point to a turnaround this season.

 

Jake Delhomme –

Carolina Panthers

2007 stats: 55-86, 624 YDS, 208.0 YPG, 8 TD, 1 INT

 

Things have not gone as smoothly for Delhomme or the Panthers since their narrow loss to the Patriots in the Super Bowl 5 years ago.

  Things were looking up, though, as Delhomme threw for his 8th TD as they were battling the Falcons in Week 3.

  All of that positivity came to a crashing halt when he hurt his throwing elbow, and was lost for the year.

  The Panthers sputtered to a 7-9 record.

 

Initially thought to be nothing serious, the injury required Tommy John surgery.

  The good news is that it happened in September, giving him about 10 months to be ready for training camp this summer.

  The team expects him to be at 100%.

 

Steve Smith is still his top target for obvious reasons.

  Delhomme’s presence alone will make Smith salivate at putting up monster numbers again.

  2 big WR acquisitions were made.

  The first is D.J. Hackett, who missed 10 games last year with the Seahawks, but caught 6 passes for 101 yards and 1 touchdown in the Wild Card game against the Redskins.

  The other is Muhsin Muhammad, who returns to the Panthers after a disappointing last season with the Bears.

 

 

A healthy arm, a big-play WR, and 2 great free agent WR additions make 2008 look to be a promising one for Delhomme.

 

Running Back

 

Ronnie Brown –

Miami Dolphins

2007 stats: 119 ATT, 602 YDS, 5.1 AVG, 4 TD, 39 REC, 389 YDS, 1 TD

 

The Dolphins were the poster children for a lost franchise last season, squeaking out one measly win against the Ravens.

  The lone bright spot was Brown, at least until he went down with a torn right ACL in Week 7.

  Before that, he averaged over 5 yards a carry, and was a constant threat catching balls out of the backfield.

 

Still, anytime a running back is coming back from a major knee injury, concerns are present.

  So far, Brown feels as if he will be ready to go by the start of the season.

  At the very worst, he will ease his way into action in first few games.

  The Dolphins really need him healthy with Ricky Williams as their other main running back, someone as reliable as a used car salesman.

 

 

While he’s only topped 1,000 yards rushing once in his 3 year career, his receiving numbers were remarkable last year.

  All of his receiving stats were increased over his first 2 years, and he only played in half the games he normally has.

  For leagues that reward points for catches, he’s your man.

  The Dolphins can’t possibly be worse than last year (can they?), so they will rely heavily on Brown to be the main playmaker when he’s ready to go.

 

Reggie Bush –

New Orleans Saints

2007 stats: 157 ATT, 581 YDS, 3.7 AVG, 4 TD, 73 REC, 417 YDS, 2 TD

 

After being the darlings of the NFL in 2006, the Saints came in with sky high hopes last season.

  Instead, an 0-4 start pretty much put an end to all of that talk.

  What made matters worse was the injury to Deuce McAllister, who came back nicely from a right knee injury that ended his ’05 season.

 

 

Bush was expected to strut his stuff and show the world why he should have been the true #1 pick of the 2006 draft over Mario Williams.

  Rather, Williams had a breakout season, and Bush never fulfilled people’s great expectations.

  His rushing numbers were roughly the same from the previous year.

  The biggest hit was in the receiving category, where he caught less passes (88-73) for less yards (742-417).

  The result was his overall touchdowns dipping from 9 to 6.

  Any way you slice it, it was not the season he had been waiting for.

 

The reports now are that Bush is taking a whole new approach to football, which can only make fantasy owners daydream about what stats he’s capable of posting.

  The biggest key will be how involved in the passing game he will be.

  He’ll never be a big-time rusher, but can break long runs at any time, much like he can turn little passes into huge gains.

  A new commitment should mean better numbers in 2008.

 

Wide Receiver

 

Roy Williams –

Detroit Lions

2007 stats: 64 REC, 838 YDS, 13.1 AVG, 5 TD

 

If you’re a big believer in putting up huge numbers in a walk year, then he is your man.

  His rookie contract is about to expire, so dollar signs are dancing in his head.

 

Two other big considerations need to be kept in mind when looking at Williams.

  One, he missed the final 4 games of the season with a sprained PCL, obviously causing his numbers to take a hit from the year before.

  With a full offseason to recover, that is no longer a factor.

 

Two, Mike Martz is no longer in town, so the Lions may actually reacquaint themselves with running the ball.

  Last season, Williams saw career lows in yards per catch, yards after catch, and touchdowns.

  Those could most likely be the result of so many defenders being dropped back in coverage.

  With even a little more commitment to running the ball, there should be more room to roam.

 

D.J. Hackett –

Carolina Panthers

2007 stats: 32 REC, 384 YDS, 12.0 AVG, 3 TD

 

Hackett certainly isn’t the biggest fish in

Carolina (see Smith, Steve), but he has all the tools to make a name for himself.

  After sitting out 10 games last season with the Seattle Seahawks, he signed with the Panthers in the offseason ready to claim the No. 2 receiving spot.

 

Here’s all the signs that point to a good year for Hackett: Jake Delhomme is recovered from Tommy John surgery and is ready to reclaim his role as one of the league’s best QB’s, Smith attracts so much attention that other receivers will need to step up and make plays, and he has great hands to gain the trust of Delhomme.

  All of these reasons will make

Carolina relevant again.

 

While he’ll never be a 1,000 yard receiver, he will certainly be able to find his spots to make plays.

  And consider this – in his 8 games last season, 3 were over 100 yards, and 4 saw him catch a TD.

  He should be on your radar later in the draft.

 

Tight End

 

Todd Heap –

Baltimore Ravens

2007 stats: 23 REC, 239 YDS, 10.4 AVG, 1 TD

 

Simply put, Heap is way too good and way too talented to have such a quiet season again.

  Injury issues derailed him to only 6 games last year, one year after playing in all 16 games for two straight years.

  A healthy Heap = a productive Heap.

 

With Steve McNair retired, it’s a tossup between Kyle Boller, Troy Smith, and rookie Joe Flacco on who will be flinging the ball on Sundays.

  What should not be hard for them to realize is that Heap is the top option.

  And here’s another bit of good news – Cam Cameron is the new offensive coordinator, and he’s the man that made Antonio Gates one of the top TE’s in the league.

 

 

With other TE’s like Gates, Tony Gonzalez, and Jason Witten getting all of the attention, do not ignore Heap later in your draft.

  He can reward you quite nicely.

 

Alge Crumpler –

Tennessee Titans

2007 stats: 42 REC, 444 YDS, 10.6 AVG, 5 TD

 

In his 8-year career, Crumpler has only missed 4 games, which is great consistency for a tough position like TE.

  He now comes to a team without a serious threat at WR, so his value perks up even more.

 

Most importantly, however, is that he’s no longer in

Atlanta and a part of the mess left by Bobby Petrino.

  After being one of the Falcons’ top targets for years, he now looks to build the same kind of chemistry with Vince Young.

  While Young is still trying to refine his passing skills, an addition like Crumpler can only make the process easier.

 

 

A great target in the end zone, Crumpler should be able to bounce back from a disappointing end to his Falcons career.

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