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Ripe for the Picking

60 percenters (3 out of 5 leagues)

Ahmad Bradshaw –

 

New York

Giants

I am firmly in the camp that Brandon Jacobs is an injury waiting to happen. Apparently, I also have my doubts that Derrick Ward would be the guy to step in once Jacobs goes down. Bradshaw is guaranteed to get his share of touches even when this backfield is at full strength. If he makes the impression he did in last year’s playoffs, the Giants will be hard-pressed not to give him a shot at the starting gig when

Brandon eventually misses time.

 

Pierre Thomas

New Orleans

Saints

The only thing keeping Thomas off the field is Deuce’s balky knees. It’s only a matter of time before this kid takes over for the aging McAllister and I say it happens sooner than later. If last year’s preview was any indication, he could be the future of the

New Orleans running game. I expect the Saints offense to be one of the most exciting in the league and I wouldn’t be surprised to see Thomas providing his share of thrills.

 

Ray Rice

Baltimore

Ravens

I know Willis McGahee has his fans but one of them is not John Harbaugh, the new Ravens head coach. Harbaugh will have to play McGahee simply because the Ravens have committed a bunch of money to him but if he gets dinged up or struggles, I expect Ray Rice, a guy Harbaugh can’t say enough good things about, to get every opportunity to make an impact.

 

Marques Colston

New Orleans

Saints

Sensing a theme here? That’s right, another Saint makes my list as I chose Colston often over many other impressive wideouts. He’s now entering his third season, the one where receivers supposedly break out. Well, he broke out when he stepped on the field as a rookie, but if there is any more upside to this guy (and I believe there is), he could easily finish in the Top 5 receivers in the league. I don’t expect the Saints passing game to get off to the slow start they did last year so the sky’s the limit for Marques.

 

Lamont Jordan

New England Patriots

Bill Belichick brought him in as a free agent, and their must be a method to his madness considering the Patriots already have plenty of running backs. I have read that he is essentially the backup to Laurence Maroney at this point, and if you believe, like I do, that Maroney is a bit on the soft side, Lamont will get his chances to prove Belichick’s instincts correct.

 

40 percenters (2 out of 5 leagues)

Brian Westbrook

Philadelphia

Eagles

The truth is I would have taken in him in every league I could have but I was only presented with the opportunity twice. I guess that makes him a 100 percenter. He obviously needs no introduction and he’ll remain the focal point of a perennially underrated Eagles offense. If he stays healthy, he’ll have another huge year.

 

Marvin Harrison

Indianapolis

Colts

Count me in the camp that Marvin comes back at full strength. I know he’s old (36) but he plays a position where players can still perform at a high level well into their thirties. People complain about his knees, but I would bet most of them suffered through the injury saga that unfolded last season with the Colts and Marvin. When he’s healthy, he’s still a Top 10 receiver and he’s got arguably the best quarterback feeding him the ball.

 

Hines Ward

Pittsburgh

Steelers

Another veteran wideout getting little love. He remains Big Ben’s go-to guy, and given the unsettled state of the

Pittsburgh offensive line, the

Pittsburgh passing offense will be relied on early and often in 2008. Injury was the only thing keeping his numbers low last season, so assuming he’s back to full strength, I expect an increase in production for Hines.

 

Joey Galloway

Tampa

Bay

Buccaneers

It’s now apparent I love veteran wideouts. They know how to get separation, run great routes and most importantly, catch the ball. There’s a reason guys like

Galloway remain their team’s top receiving option when guys almost half his age struggle to make the team. Galloway remains the top option for

Tampa, and he has great chemistry with Garcia.

 

Steve Smith

Carolina

Panthers

Dude’s got a chip on his shoulder the size of

Mount Rushmore and I like it! Once he returns from his two-game suspension for breaking his teammate’s nose, I fully expect him to take out his wrath on unsuspecting corners on

other teams. I think he could still finish in the Top 10 despite missing those games.

 

Jake Delhomme

Carolina

Panthers

Another team theme. Truthfully, I don’t like drafting quarterbacks early so this is one guy I gravitated to in the middle rounds. He was the only guy available in those rounds who, before his injury, produced at a Top 10 level. Assuming his arm is fully healed and the Panthers offensive line keeps him upright, he could easily return to that level with all the new weapons he has in his arsenal.

 

DeSean Jackson

Philadelphia

Eagles

There’s a reason Eagles fans bemoan their lack of receivers most seasons, but I think this year they’ll be pleasantly surprised that the club didn’t bring in a washed-up veteran. If anyone caught the preseason game against the Patriots, you witnessed a player who made the opposition look old and slow. All right, some of them truly are but even the younger, faster players had trouble keeping up with this water bug in cleats.

 

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