1. Adrian Peterson, MIN. With Chester Taylor gone, Peterson will get even more carries and goal line touches, which makes his 1,800 scrimmage yards, 18 TDs seem to be the minimum for him if he can avoid injury. He is worth the #1 overall pick.
2. Maurice Jones-Drew, JAX. With two rookies starting at OT, MJD managed 1,800 scrimmage yards, 16 TDs in 2009. It’s a safe bet he will post similar numbers again in 2010 with a better OL, no skilled backup, and a shaky passing game. Take him #2 overall.
3. Frank Gore, SF. Despite missing three games last year, Gore had over 1,500 scrimmage yards and 13 TDs. With two first round picks on offensive linemen and possibly the easiest schedule in football, Gore is a candidate for over 2,000 total yards and 15 scores. He is safe to draft in the top 5 overall.
4. Ray Rice, BAL. Rice had over 2,000 total yards last season, and while he may get less receptions with Anquan Boldin in the fold, he should find the endzone more as the true feature back. He is worth a top 5 pick.
5. Chris Johnson, TEN. Johnson is in a perfect situation, no doubt, but he has had over 700 touches in the past two seasons. At 200 pounds, can he stay healthy and avoid the fate that has haunted almost all previous league leaders in carries? Throw in a tough schedule and Johnson is not worth the top pick overall, though he is still an elite back worth a top 5 selection.
6. Michael Turner, ATL. While Turner will be a TD machine, he doesn’t offer the receiving production or versatility of the clear-cut top 5 backs. He is still a RB1 worth a pick toward the middle or end of round 1.
7. Shonn Greene, NYJ. Greene is the unquestioned featured back on a team that has run more than anybody in the last five seasons. Don’t be afraid to take him late in the first round.
8. Steven Jackson, STL. Despite missing 10 starts in the last 4 years, he has always topped 1,400 total yards. If he can stay healthy for a change, he has big time potential due to his talent and his team’s reliance on him. He is still worthy of a late first or early second round pick.
9. DeAngelo Williams, CAR. Despite being in a nearly 50-50 timeshare, Williams will get 300 touches if he stays healthy. He looks to be a safe bet for about 1,600 total yards and 8 TDs. He’s a low-end RB1 worth an early pick in round 2.
10. Pierre Thomas, NO. Despite receiving fewer than 200 touches last year, Thomas had about 1,100 total yards and 8 TDs. Expect him to absorb most of Mike Bell’s 174 carries from a year ago and benefit from a very favorable schedule. 1,500 scrimmage yards and 10 TDs seem reasonable for the Illinois product. He’s being greatly undervalued and you may be able to steal him in the third round.
11. Ryan Grant, GB. In an unchanged situation, look for Grant to post very similar numbers to last year’s 1,450 total yards and 11 TDs. He’s a low-end RB1 worth a mid-to-late second round pick.
12. Rashard Mendenhall, PIT. Mendenhall will have a lower average rush due to Roethlisberger’s suspension and will receive very sparse red zone opportunities. Still, he should garner at least 300 touches, but probably will be slightly overvalued in your league. I would take him between 15th and 25th overall.
13. Ryan Mathews, SD. Everything seems to line up nicely for Mathews in his rookie year, but you just never know with rookies. I predict a big year, but I’d rather go with a safer back as my RB1. Nevertheless, Mathews is well worth a mid/late second rounder although he will often be overdrafted.
14. Jonathan Stewart, CAR. Though Stewart benefitted from DeAngelo Williams’ injury, he should still receive at least 200 touches, which he will take for at least 1,000 scrimmage yards and 8-10 scores. I expect slightly better from him, and he is worth a third round pick as a solid RB2. He is being severely undervalued in many leagues.
15. Cedric Benson, CIN. A feature back on a run-first team is worth a third round selection. That is, unless he gets suspended for his recent arrest. Monitor his situation before you spend a high pick on him.
16. Ronnie Brown, MIA. When healthy, Brown always seems to be on all-pro pace. Last season, he was on pace for 1,400 total yards and 15 scores. He has enormous potential if he can finally get it together, and I love him as an RB2 this season. He is on underrated watch and should be available to you in round 4.
17. Jamaal Charles, KC. Charles is certainly a supremely talented back and should rack up around 1,500 scrimmage yards. His offense makes me nervous however, and he won’t get red zone touches. Don’t be surprised if Charles mildly disappoints this season, and he is usually overvalued. Take him early in round 4 if by some miracle he’s still around.
18. Felix Jones, DAL. The Cowboys backfield picture is very similar to Baltimore’s from a year ago, and Jones could be this year’s Ray Rice. He has 2,000 total yard potential, but nobody really knows who will get the carries. I like Jones as an overlooked RB2 worth a fourth round pick.
19. Knowshon Moreno, DEN. Sources close to the Broncos are convinced Moreno will have a breakout season. He will play a bigger role in the passing game and should improve his yards per carry. Expect about 1,400 total yards and around 8 scores for the run-of-the-mill RB2 worth a hard look in round 4.
20. Joseph Addai, IND. Not particularly explosive or all that great, Addai is a much better fantasy player than real player. He hit paydirt 13 times last season, and that’s a number that can be repeated despite the presence of last year’s first round pick Donald Brown. Expect about 1,100 total yards with 10-12 scores. Take him in round 4 or 5 as a low-end RB2.
21. Brandon Jacobs, NYG. It’s tough to believe Jacobs had a career high in rushing attempts last season since he ran for more than 200 fewer yards than in ‘08. Expect him to get about 250 touches this year too, where he has a ton of TD potential to go along with around 1,000 rushing yards. He is being overlooked this season, and is a great pickup in round 5.
22. Chris “Beanie” Wells, ARZ. Wells may not be in line for the bump in rushes everyone is seemingly predicting. Tim Hightower is a much better receiver and pass protector, which could keep Wells off the field more than his fantasy owners foresee. He’s still a fifth round pick who should have around 1,100 total yards and 6-8 TDs.
23. Matt Forte, CHI. Forte had 1,400 scrimmage yards last season, believe it or not. The Martz offense should only increase his receiving production and TD opportunities. Chester Taylor could take red zone opportunities and receptions away though, which makes Forte tough to trust as an RB2. Take him in round 5.
24. LeSean “Shady” McCoy. McCoy has worked very hard this offseason, but Mike Bell and Leonard Weaver will take more carries away from McCoy than anticipated. Still, McCoy should rack up 1,200 scrimmage yards but only around 6 or 7 scores. He’s a low-end RB2 that will be taken higher than he belongs.
25. Justin Forsett, SEA. Forsett appears to be Pete Carroll’s favorite player and could take on a huge role on a Seahawks team that will run the ball more. He has an easy schedule and the best rookie offensive lineman. He could have 300 touches for over 1,500 total yards and 6-8 TDs. Still, the role is no guarantee but regard Forsett as a big sleeper that you can net in round 7 or 8 and use as a great RB3.
26. Jahvid Best, DET. I like Best to post similar numbers to Kevin Smith in his rookie season, where he had almost 1,300 total yards and found the endzone 8 times. Best does have a long injury history and a returning Kevin Smith to worry about, however. He is overvalued and should be taken in round 6.
27. Jerome Harrison, CLE. It took a while for Harrison to get going, but he proved he could be effective when he rushed for 605 yards and 5 scores in the last 5 contests of 2009. Watch out for Montario Hardesty, who could steal a ton of carries, but Harrison has very high upside as a RB3.
28. Carnell “Cadillac” Williams, TB. With the maturation and improvement of the Bucs offense, Cadillac should at least match his 1,040 scrimmage yards and 7 TDs from a year ago. Health is a huge risk however. He should be selected right around round 8.
29. Ricky Williams, MIA. Despite playing second fiddle to Ronnie Brown, Williams should see 12-15 touches a game and plenty of scoring opportunities. He is an ideal handcuff, but also worth taking on his own in round 8 due to Brown’s scary injury history.
30. Michael Bush, OAK. The release of Justin Fargas will allow Michael Bush to finally receive a starter’s workload. He is getting more first team reps than Darren McFadden, and will receive more than 200 touches. Expect at least 1,000 total yards and 5-6 TDs and know that he is worth a ninth rounder.
31. Reggie Bush, NO. The dynamic playmaker will only have to share carries with one other back instead of two in 2010. This means 4-5 more touches a game. Bush is also pretty much a lock for around 8 scores due to his explosiveness, situation, and versatility. He is a ninth round pick that could pay huge dividends.
32. Clinton Portis, WSH. It appears as if Portis and Larry Johnson will be the primary ball carriers for a team with an improved offensive line and a more respectable passing game, not to mention Mike Shanahan. He looks to be a 250 touch guy, or at least close to that. That’s enough to be drafted in round 10.
33. Ahmad Bradshaw, NYG. Both Bradshaw and Jacobs are coming off surgery, but the former may be the only one that recovers well enough to be a starter. There’s too much potential for Bradshaw to be on the board past round 11 or 10 despite the considerable risk he presents. Low-end RB3.
34. Darren Sproles, SD. The lightning bolt of a running back, pun intended, may wind up getting quite a few more touches than expected due to the injury history of Mathews and unpredictability of rookies in general. Regardless, Sproles will post at least 900 scrimmage yards and 6 scores. He’s an RB4 with upside.
35. Marion Barber, DAL. Probably will be useless for fantasy purposes, but double digit TD potential is still too hard to ignore if he’s still on the board in the 11th or 12th.
36. C.J. Spiller, BUF. Supremely talented, but he’s in a mess of a backfield behind a mess of an offensive line. He has 1,300 scrimmage yard potential, but TDs will be tough to come by in Orchard Park.
37. Laurence Maroney, NE. Nobody has a clue who will get the ball in New England, but Kevin Faulk, Sammy Morris, and Fred Taylor are so old they may get stuck with very reduced roles. A lot of TDs on the table make Maroney an attractive late round flier.
38. Larry Johnson, WSH. Johnson probably has the freshest legs on the Redskins despite being 30 years old. Who knows, he may emerge as a feature back and rack up over 1,000 rushing yards.
39. Tim Hightower, ARZ. Due to his great pass protection skills and receiving abilities, Hightower will be left in the game more than expected. His ‘09 numbers should be replicated, just without the TDs.
40. Ben Tate, HOU. I’m not sold on Tate at all. Gary Kubiak has a very quick hook and a very talented back in Steve Slaton. The potential is there, but he cannot be relied on as an RB3.
41. Montario Hardesty, CLE. Reports out of Cleveland are that Hardesty looks impressive. However, Mangini may be inclined to start Jerome Harrison instead, who saved his coaches’ jobs with his late season heroics.
42. Kevin Smith, DET. If Smith beats out Jahvid Best for the #1 RB job, he may be pretty productive despite his injury. Take a chance on him very late.
43. Fred Jackson, BUF. Even though Buffalo drafted C.J. Spiller, Fred Jackson was extremely productive considering his circumstances. Spiller will spend a lot of time as a slot receiver as well to free up Jackson for more touches.
44. Bernard Scott, CIN. If Cedric Benson gets suspended, Bernard Scott will start in his place and get a piece of the pie in Cinci. If he impresses, he may be a permanent fixture in the backfield rotation.
45. Chester Taylor, CHI. Though it seems doubtful Chester Taylor will start in place of Forte, the former Viking will get his touches, even some at the goal line. He will be moderately overdrafted, however.
46. Glen Coffee, SF. Frank Gore is injury prone and the 49ers have a ridiculously easy schedule. Those two factors make Coffee a potential late round gem whether or not you own Frank Fore.
47. Steve Slaton, HOU. Nobody knows who will run the ball in Houston or for how long. What we do know is what Slaton is capable of (1,282 rush yards in ‘08) when he’s at the top of his game.
48. Donald Brown, IND. Addai appears to still be the lead man, but GM Bill Polian is no fool and doesn’t spend first round picks on players who won’t play a big role on the team.
49. Toby Gerhart, MIN. With Chester Taylor bolting to the rival Bears, Toby Gerhart is Adrian Peterson’s primary backup. That could be an important role given AP’s injury history and fumbling problems.
50. Tashard Choice, DAL. Dallas is another one of those teams with multiple or zero talented backs. We don’t know how the carries will be split up, but Choice may near 200 touches this season.
1. Aaron Rodgers, GB. The perfect storm of talent, age, productivity, experience, and situation. There is no reason to believe Rodgers will not be a top performer again in 2010. He is worth a late first round pick.
2. Drew Brees, NO. Every bit as attractive as Aaron Rodgers excluding inferior left tackle and a schedule that may indicate more running than expected. Well worth a pick between 10-15 overall.
3. Matt Schaub, HOU. The cornerstone of this franchise that could repeat as league leader in passing yards. Injury concerns are legit with both he and star WR Andre Johnson, however, and TDs will be harder to come by in Houston than in New Orleans or Green Bay. Still, Schaub is deserving of an early third round pick.
4. Peyton Manning, IND. Consistency king has never thrown for under 3,700 yards AND 26 TDs in his entire career. Safe pick, but ceiling is lower than Rodgers’ or Brees’. Pick Peyton in round 3.
5. Tom Brady, NE. Welker injury and Moss aging are real issues, but are being blown way out of proportion by most. Steal Brady in your draft with a fourth round pick.
6. Tony Romo, DAL. Though the Cowboys will run the ball more than Romo owners would like, the star QB has a career average of over 8 yards per pass, an outstanding figure in today’s NFL. Draft Romo in round 4 and expect numbers close to his 4,500/26/9 stat line from a year ago.
7. Philip Rivers, SD. San Diego will remain a passing team despite Vincent Jackson’s suspension. Keep an eye on both he and Marcus McNeill however, as prolonged absences by either or both of them would hamper Rivers’ value. Nevertheless, the TD potential in San Diego makes Rivers a sure-fire fourth rounder.
8. Brett Favre, MIN. There is no doubt in my mind Favre will return for a 20th season. When he does, expect a decrease in passing yards and increase in INTs as his career high yards per pass and career low interception totals were more aberrations than anything else. Still, Favre is a serviceable but not ideal QB1 worth a sixth round selection.
9. Joe Flacco, BAL. With the additions of Anquan Boldin, Donte Stallworth, and Dennis Pitta, expect Baltimore to throw more and have more success while doing it. Flacco should push the 4,000 yard mark and throw for at least 25 scores. He is a QB1, albeit a low-end one compared to the passers ahead of him. He is usually undervalued and should be taken between rounds six and eight.
10. Eli Manning, NYG. In 2009, Eli bested his previous career high yards per pass by over a full yard. The trend isn’t all fluke, but the passing yards are slightly bloated. Don’t expect Eli to surpass 4,000 yards again, although he is a 30 TD candidate. He is a decent option at QB1 if you miss out on the elite passers worth taking in round 7 or 8.
11. Jay Cutler, CHI. Despite having a miserable real football season, Cutler posted 27 touchdowns and almost 3,700 passing yards. With a healthy Devin Aromashodu and running a Mike Martz offense, Cutler should improve his efficiency and cut down on his turnovers. This makes him a low-end QB1 with potential, and he is a great option around the eighth round.
12. Matt Ryan, ATL. With his team, himself included, hampered by injuries in ‘09, expect Ryan to return to his rookie form. Even if he does, he is not a very attractive fantasy player, as his chances of surpassing 3,500 yards seem rather slim. Try to avoid him as your only viable QB1 and take him in rounds 8 or 9.
13. Carson Palmer, CIN. Whether you point to the additions of Antonio Bryant, Jermaine Gresham, and Jordan Shipley or to the possible suspension of Cedric Benson, Carson Palmer is destined to improve upon his pedestrian 2009 campaign. He should throw for around 3,500 yards and 25 scores and should be a dependable but unspectacular QB best used as a reserve. Draft him no earlier than round 8.
14. Donovan McNabb, WSH. If Jason Campbell was able to throw for over 3,600 yards behind a terrible offensive line with iffy targets, Donovan McNabb should be able to surprise a ton of people this season. He isn’t safe to draft as a QB1 given his extensive injury history and age, but McNabb could throw for 4,000 yards and 25 TDs. Give him a hard look as a top notch QB2 beginning in the ninth round.
15. Kevin Kolb, PHI. In 14 games, Donovan McNabb threw for 3,600 yards and 22 TDs with the Eagles last season. Expect Kolb to post similar numbers, but with more INTs as part of the learning curve. Kolb has great potential in the Eagle attack, but is by no means a sure thing. He is being severely overvalued and is not worth more than a 10th rounder.
16. Alex Smith, SF. Extend Alex Smith’s 2009 totals over a full 16 game schedule and he throws for almost 3,800 yards and 28 TDs. Unbelievable. Throw in chemistry with a potential star in Michael Crabtree, a solid run game, and upgrades to the offensive line, and Alex Smith is a breakout candidate. Four years ago was the only time Smith was good enough to hold his job for a full 16 game slate and he failed to surpass even 3,000 yards though. Big risk, but bigger reward. I love his cake schedule and ceiling and trust him with my pick between rounds 11-13 as a nice QB2.
17. Chad Henne, MIA. In ‘09, Henne threw for close to 3,000 yards in only 13 starts. Throw in Brandon Marshall, a full offseason as the starter, and a probable decline in wildcat packages and Henne should easily surpass 3,500 yards in 2010. He is an average QB2 worth a look in round 12 or beyond.
18. Ben Roethlisberger, PIT. Roethlisberger would probably rank 7th or 8th on this list if not for his six game suspension. He threw for over 4,300 yards last season, and he should average 16 to 18 fantasy points per game in standard formats. That being said, he will likely be over drafted and I would let him be somebody else’s problem unless my started had a late bye week. Pick him up in round 12 if he’s there.
19. Vince Young, TEN. Young will throw for less than 200 yards a game and isn’t likely to throw for 20 or more scores. However, he is a good risk-reward pickup due to his running potential. Take a late round flier on him as a risky QB2.
20. Jason Campbell, OAK. Despite changing teams during the offseason, Campbell has similar talent around him and should be able to throw for close to 3,500 yards and 20 scores. He’s a low-end QB2.
21. Matthew Stafford, DET. I just don’t see what other people do in Stafford. His yards per pass should continue to hover around 6.0 and his offensive line hasn’t made significant strides. Expect nothing more than 3,500 yards and 20 TDs.
22. Matt Moore, CAR. I really like Matt Moore as a real football player, but Carolina runs too much for him to make a big fantasy impact. Still, he could throw for over 3,500 yards. Low-end QB2.
23. David Garrard, JAX. Garrard has surpassed 3,500 yards in each season he has started 16 games. He also has never thrown for more than 18 TDs, so you know what you’re getting. A decent QB 2 with no real upside.
24. Matt Hasselbeck, SEA. The Seahawks led the league in pass attempts last season, but Hasselbeck managed barely 3,000 yards through the air. Throw in the extensive injury history and Hasselbeck is barely worthy of a draft pick unless you are in a deep draft.
Fantasy football drafts have been tightening up, and consequently, you will find that your favorite sleeper pick is now being taken in the ninth round instead of the thirteenth. Whatever the reason, people are drafting better, leaving fewer studs to slip through the cracks of rounds one and two and snatching up the best kept secrets at more reasonable selections. Don’t be discouraged, however, for there are still many bargains to be had.
The amount of elite quarterbacks are dramatically changing the first three to five rounds of all fantasy mock drafts, and you need to play this new phenomenon to your advantage if you wish to conduct a successful draft. When the top flight passers go early, which means 7 in the top 40 selections, there is very desirable talent on the board at other positions when you are on the clock in the fourth, fifth, or even sixth rounds. Jonathan Stewart, well worth a third round selection, is now sliding to the bottom of the fourth round sometimes. Knowing that a solid #2 runner will be on the board in the fourth or fifth rounds allows you to draft a second receiver or a top tier tight end much earlier than you would have normally.
When the quarterbacks don’t fly off the board, however, one lucky owner can land himself Tom Brady, Philip Rivers, or Matt Schaub in the 40-50 overall range. So, don’t get mesmerized by Brees’ magical ‘09 numbers and pick him fifth overall. Instead, wait until the third round to consider your options at quarterback. At that point, if you aren’t convinced a quarterback you love will fall to you in round 4, take one. If three or four are still on the board though, take a runner or receiver you wouldn’t have gotten elsewhere. Personally, I don’t see a huge difference between Aaron Rodgers, Peyton Manning, and Philip Rivers. While the former two will go in the top 15, I would much rather spend my first round pick on a great RB and wait to select Rivers than have Drew Brees in hand and pick between my #12 WR and #14 RB at 43 overall. In fact, I have tested the QB very early strategy just to make sure I didn’t want to go in that direction. I was very disappointed with the results. The two mock drafts I have posted below contrast the QB-WR-RB-WR and RB-WR-WR-QB strategies.
|A. Rodgers, QB, GB|
|M. Austin, WR, DAL|
|J. Stewart, RB, CAR|
|A. Boldin, WR, BAL|
|B. Jacobs, RB, NYG|
|P. Garcon, WR, IND|
|J. Harrison, RB, CLE|
|M. Floyd, WR, SD|
|H. Miller, TE, PIT|
|J. Forsett, RB, SEA|
|C. Schilens, WR, OAK|
|M. Bush, RB, OAK|
|A. Smith, QB, SF|
|S. Graham, K, BAL|
|S. Greene, RB, NYJ|
|M. Austin, WR, DAL|
|A. Boldin, WR, BAL|
|M. Schaub, QB, HOU|
|B. Jacobs, RB, NYG|
|H. Ward, WR, PIT|
|F. Jones, RB, DAL|
|K. Winslow, TE, TB|
|M. Floyd, WR, SD|
|M. Bush, RB, OAK|
|C. Schilens, WR, OAK|
|J. Carlson, TE, SEA|
|A. Smith, QB, SF|
|D. Carpenter, K, MIA|
As you can see, the starters in each draft are nearly identical. I would rather have Matt Schaub and Shonn Greene than Aaron Rodgers and Jonathan Stewart, is what I’m really trying to say. Where you take your signal caller really is what holds the key to how much value you can get in your fantasy draft. If you really believe in Joe Flacco or Brett Favre, take one of them in the eighth round and you should be rock solid at the other positions. I, however, see a big drop-off after the big 7 (Rodgers, Brees, Schaub, P. Manning, Rivers, Brady, Romo) and am willing to take a small hit in my RB stable to ensure I get one of the seven. So long and until next time, fantasy football managers.
In today’s edition of Split Decision, Michael Crabtree and Chad Ochocinco will do battle. On average, they are being drafted in the fourth round as #2 receivers. Should you go with the emerging but unproven 49er or the established but regressing Bengal when you are on the clock?
Michael Crabtree’s rookie season was really a waste because of his contract dispute, and he consequently caught barely five times as many passes as the first receiver drafted, Darrius Heyward-Bey. He missed the first five games of the season and did not participate in any offseason workouts. Still, he caught 48 passes for 625 yards despite the fact that he had no chemistry with his quarterback(s), whoever they were. Project those totals over a 16 game schedule, and Crabtree hauls in 70 balls good for 909 yards. Again, that’s with Alex Smith under center, who he has absolutely no rhythm with running routes. This season, Crabtree is a prime breakout candidate. With probably the softest schedule in the league, regular season experience, and an offseason under his belt, all the signs point to a much more impressive season for the second year man out of Texas Tech. Crabtree should also get many of Vernon Davis’ touchdowns since the latter’s 13 touchdown season was a fluke. Even with a shaky quarterback and a coach that likes to pound the rock, Crabtree will win one-on-one battles in the secondary and impress this season. He is an underrated receiver worth a selection between 35th and 40th overall as a top flight #2 receiver.
Prediction: 80 catches, 1,050 receiving yards, 7 receiving TDs. 147 FPTS (9.2 per game)
After a supremely disappointing 2008 season, Chad Ochocinco rebounded nicely last year to grab 72 passes and find the endzone 9 times. He was Cincinnati’s only real receiving threat, but that will change this year after the Bengals added Antonio Bryant via free agency and spent their first round selection on tight end Jermaine Gresham. Those arrivals coupled with the probable suspension of Cedric Benson and departure of Larry Johnson signal a more heavy reliance on the passing game, at least in the early parts of the season. However, Ocho may end up getting fewer targets because of the signings of other legitimate targets. Also, Chad is almost 33 and has been publicly criticized by Carson Palmer for his lack of focus on football during the offseason. He will see more single coverage, but that alone won’t compensate for his decrease in targets and potentially fracturing relationship with his quarterback. Still, Ochocinco presents little risk and is worth taking in the fifth round as a mid to low end #2 receiver. Just don’t expect him to best his numbers from ’09 or even duplicate them.
Prediction: 65 catches, 950 receiving yards, 6 receiving TDs. 131 FPTS(8.2 per game)
Decision: Michael Crabtree. Both are locked in as #1 receivers on run-first teams, but Crabtree is much younger and talented than Ochocinco. Antonio Bryant will steal more targets than Josh Morgan, and Crabtree should find the endzone much more often. This is not that close of a call.
I do much of my fantasy football through Yahoo, and really like their idea of “Spin Doctors” that they do with players who have fairly equal value in the eyes of the public. Two writers, each defending a different player, make their case for their guy and you are left to decide in the end. While I almost always have my mind made up going in, I always learn some new nuggets of information which can lead me to tweak my rankings on occasion. So, I will attempt a one man, 2 Point Conversion version of “Spin Doctors”, entitled “Split Decision.”
I decided on Addai and Jones because they are numbers 49 and 50 in ADP according to http://fantasyfootballcalculator.com/adp.php with Addai holding the slightest edge. Deciding between the pair also gave me pause, as I believe both are low-end #2 RBs. Both have considerable upsides, but also legitimate concerns. Addai got 74% of the carries between he and fellow rookie Donald Brown. Since Addai averaged only 3.8 yards per carry, the Colts will probably allow Donald Brown to eat into his workload. However, even if the Colts take 3 touches away from Addai every game, he will still average over 14 a game. I predict Addai will get between 230 and 250 touches next season, after he had 270 in 2009. Still, he is the goal line back in one of the most efficient offenses in the league, and there is no reason to believe he will score less than 8-10 touchdowns along with his healthy load of touches, which will come consistently. So, Addai’s floor is relatively high due to the ample scoring opportunities, but he may barely scratch the 1,000 yard mark in yards from scrimmage. With 2009 first round pick Donald Brown in the backfield, Addai will no longer have 230 or 250 carry seasons, and he is simply not explosive enough to be a thousand yard rusher on the amount of carries he will get. He is worth a fifth round pick in your league and should be steady, but unspectacular.
Prediction: 740 rushing yards, 8 rushing TDs, 390 receiving yards, 2 receiving TDs. 173 FPTS (10.8 per game).
Felix Jones showed everybody what he could do on 9 touches a game. He averaged under 6 yards per carry and his workload figures to dramatically increase this season. Dallas will have about 450 carries to divy up between Jones, Barber, and Tashard Choice. I expect Choice to receive about 100 of them, but he has no chance of surpassing everybody to the top of the depth chart barring injuries. Marion Barber should only receive about half of what he did last year (214), leaving Jones with more than 200 carries. However, nobody really knows how those carries will be split up. Felix Jones is a good bet to rack up 1,400 total yards and 6-8 touchdowns, but the bust possibility is real, unlike with Addai. Also, unlike Addai, Felix Jones will give up goal line work to Marion the Barbarian, a premier goal line back and closer. Still, he is explosive enough to do well on limited carries, though he will not be consistent enough to produce as a RB2 in that situation. However, I believe he will get at least 175 carries, meaning at least 210 or so touches, which he should turn in to a solid season.
Barber’s carries can also be lower than what people expect as well. After all, Barber had by far the lowest yards per carry out of the three backs and has endured a lot of punishment for a 27-year-old runner. If this is the case, Felix Jones would be closer to 300 touches, which would go for in the neighborhood of 1,700 total yards and up to 9 or 10 touchdowns. Jones becomes a true #1 RB in this case and cements himself as one of the premier backs in the league. Only time will tell, I suppose.
Prediction: 980 rushing yards, 5 rushing TDs, 350 receiving yards, 2 receiving TDs. 175 FPTS (10.9 per game)
Decision: Felix Jones. This is a close call, and if you need to draft one as your starter, Addai is probably the safer pick due to his goal line duties. However, if you are looking for a third RB or simply one with a ton of potential, Felix Jones may reward you with a championship.
The New York Jets have locked up pro bowl left tackle D’Brickashaw Ferguson to a six year contract extension worth $60 million, of which more than half will come in guaranteed money. The deal is nearly identical to the extension the Eagles gave Jason Peters, another pro bowl left tackle they had recently acquired from Buffalo. The Jets’ contract issues are far from solved though. Pro bowl center Nick Mangold, all-pro Darrelle Revis, and starting inside linebacker David Harris all have expiring contracts. The Ferguson deal may have opened the floodgates, showing the other three that the organization will pay top dollar for their services.
The Jets will have some tough choices to make, however. Known as a franchise that is not afraid to let their players walk, will they allow Mangold or even Revis to test the free agent waters? The Jets also have been having trouble selling seats at their brand new stadium, so Woody Johnson could be very reluctant to dish out three fat contracts. If not, rookies Vladimir Ducasse and Kyle Wilson may have to grow up fast and pick up the slack on the offensive line and in the defensive backfield.
When Jamarcus Russell and Michael Vick, a backup and a free agent, dominate the news across the NFL landscape, you know it’s a slow time of year. What to do to fill the time? Besides LeBronapalooza and the World Cup, the correct answer for sports nuts would be fantasy football. Today, I completed my first two fantasy mock drafts. For those of you only concerned with actual football, I advise you to leave this page and go read about Jamarcus some more.
I was very curious about this season, and going in I kept my eye on a few situations. First, there are eight quarterbacks most fantasy players would consider at least 3rd or 4th round picks (Rodgers, Brees, Manning, Favre, Romo, Brady, Rivers, Schaub in no particular order). I doubted very seriously that eight of ten people would be willing with such a high pick to guarantee themselves a top flight signal caller. Make that eight of nine, because I refuse to take a QB in the first two rounds and it would take great value for me to pick one in the third or even fourth round. I did want one of the seven (I don’t consider Favre elite this season) however, and was resigned to taking one in the fourth. To my chagrin, Matt Schaub, Tony Romo, and Philip Rivers all went in the fourth round and before my pick. I later settled for Favre in round 6. Those same seven quarterbacks lasted even shorter in my next draft in which I was able to snag Philip Rivers with the 29th overall pick.
The implications of the 7 passers in the first 30-35 picks were both obvious and big. They push talented backs and receivers way down the draft board, and this is a trend I expect to continue right up until late August. In my first draft, I was able to net DeAngelo Williams with the 25th selection, a full round after he should go in my opinion. In my second draft, three QBs went in the first round, which allowed me to pick Andre Johnson with my #9 selection and Greg Jennings early in the fourth round. With less elite passers, Johnson would have gone between the 5 and 7 slots and Jennings would have been a sure-fire third rounder. My advice would be to resist the temptation of drafting Aaron Rodgers or Drew Brees with a top 5 pick and wait until the third or early fourth round to get your Matt Schaub or Tony Romo. The difference between Rodgers and Schaub will probably be smaller than the difference between Ray Rice and Felix Jones.
Another situation I wanted to observe was where first year starters would find their niches in a fantasy draft. Do people really want to spend a top 15 pick on Rashard Mendenhall or Shonn Greene or will they opt for a proven veteran instead? How will people look at Jamaal Charles, Ryan Mathews, and Jerome Harrison? The biggest surprise was without a doubt Jerome Harrison. While Jamaal Charles (my #19 RB) consistently went in round 3, people viewed Harrison (my #22 RB) in a much different light. In fact, I was able to pick him up in round 12 in one of the drafts. Why are their perceived values so different? Both play on lousy offenses with dreadful passing games and offensive lines with considerably large holes in them. Both took on large roles towards the end of the season and gave their teams huge boosts in their ground games. I give Charles the edge because he plays in a much easier division and is more explosive. He was also more highly regarded coming out of college, and was very impressive at Texas. Harrison however was the MVP for Cleveland’s four game win streak at the tail end of the season, costing them Sam Bradford in all likelihood.
I also found out that I had no idea where kickers played. Since when did Shayne Graham move to the rival Ravens? Rackers plays for Houston? Jay Feely’s left the Jets? I’m already getting a good feel for this season. Last year, I wanted a top 4 pick, but I’m loving the middle picks this year. I was comfortable at #9 out of 10 as well, but I much prefered the fifth slot. I’ve also found out that you can find a #2 RB in round 5 or even round 6 if you get lucky. So, I my early strategy looks roughly like this: RB-WR-QB-WR-RB-WR.
I’m also quite surprised at how low some players are going, so I now have sleepers that I didn’t expect to be. Keep in mind that these drafts had only 10 teams. At quarterback, the most undervalued guys are Joe Flacco and Donovan McNabb. I consider Flacco a low-end #1 QB who can be had in round 9. McNabb is a real nice backup plan available in rounds 10 or 11. At running back, Steven Jackson (my #5 RB) is going in the middle of the second round, a victim of the early run on signal callers. DeAngelo Williams is slipping out of the second round way too often. Brandon Jacobs and Jonathan Stewart are often lasting as long as round 7 or 8 and I already mentioned Jerome Harrison. As far as pass catchers go, I love Anquan Boldin. He never cracked the top 35 or 40 picks and has top 5 overall potential as a true #1 playing with a franchise QB. Braylon Edwards is a guy I happily snatched up in the 13th round of both my drafts. Malcom Floyd is one of my favorite sleepers who is well worth a flier after round 12. He is a big-time red zone target a 6’5″ for an elite quarterback in a passing offense. He will also be the #1 wideout during Vincent Jackson’s suspension. He had nearly 800 yards last season and he will almost surely best those numbers by a sizeable margin. He should be fine to draft as a #3 WR. The most undervalued player, however, is Zach Miller, the Raiders’ tight end. At age 24, he is poised for a breakout season alongside a potent passer for once, Jason Campbell. Last season with Bruce Gradkowski/Jamarcus Russell at the helm, Miller caught 66 passes for over 800 yards despite missing a game due to injury. Campbell also loves his tight ends, so expect Miller to match Chris Cooley’s production he had between 2005 and 2008. Until more mock drafts get done, this is the most advice I have for you. Good luck this season guys.
Everybody seems to agree that the NFL cannot continue to let rookie contracts spiral out of control. A top 8 pick can clog up over 5% of a team’s salary cap space, while the team will have roughly 45 veterans consuming an average of less than half that. In 2009, Matthew Stafford signed a six-year deal worth $12 million per year with over $41 million guaranteed. In that same year, Blake Griffin signed a two-year deal worth under $4.5 million per year with a team option to retain him for $4.8 mil in 2011 and for $6 mil in 2012. It’s not just the sums that are troublesome; it’s the length and guaranteed amounts of the contract. For example, Evander Hood, the 32nd overall pick, will make more in guaranteed money than the 5th overall pick in the NBA. No wonder Lions fans don’t come to games; their tickets go towards paying Gosder Cherilus his $9 million guaranteed, Ernie Sims’ $12 million guaranteed and Mike Williams’ and Charles Rogers’ combined $45 million that they robbed from the Detroit organization.
Team option contracts after the first two years are brilliant. Rookies will have more incentive to work extremely hard to improve and win a starting job and if they slouch, the team that picked them won’t get hit by a huge cap penalty if they get rid of their bust pick. Now, bust on a top 5 pick and your franchise will find it tough to recover because you have to pay that bench warmer $35 million no matter how bad he is or if he even makes it on to the field. The bottom line is that the pressure of young players needs to be on the rookies, not the teams that drafted them.
I must admit, I’m getting sick and tired of Brett Favre’s annual offseason dramatics. I admired him in his years as a Packer but have lost all respect for him since. Apparently, being a star NFL quarterback doesn’t come with a big enough spotlight for his highness. His infantile plea for attention is getting old and aggravating. He just gave an interview with his local newspaper, where he pretended he didn’t know what was running through his own mind and essentially asked his fans to stay tuned to his situation. He also dropped a not-so-subtle hint that he’d like another shot at the New Orleans Saints after the first (the NFC Championship Game) was fumbled away by Adrian Peterson.
Brett, you know exactly how the remainder of your offseason will unfold. First, you will waffle and make the entire Viking organization come down to your Mississippi ranch and wine and dine you and kiss your toes for you to come back. Then, as your teammates are sweating with each other during the dog days of training camp, you’ll be tossing around a football with local high school kids. But of course, why would a legend like you show up to such a lowly event as training camp? Finally, as soon as your teammates have transitioned from work to play – around the second week of August – you will have had a revelation totally out of the blue that you cannot live without football and make your spontaneous return. Please.
I seem to be in the minority when I say I am not amused in the least bit by your circus. You are not above the team, or the coaches. You have 32 more interceptions than games started, so clearly you aren’t the superhero you pretend to be. You are a great quarterback, you still are, but you are not better than your teammates who you are letting down by not showing up to the practice field or the weight room. You are not higher than the entire Packers’ organization, who handled your situation perfectly. You promised to retire, so Green Bay drafted Aaron Rodgers to replace you. Instead, you thought you were entitled to set back the entire team’s youth movement and Rodgers’ career for another few years and nothing would come of it. Well, you still haven’t learned your lesson; you are not more valuable than your 52 teammates, dozens of coaches and talent evaluators. Stop pining for attention and acting like you are so much more important than your fellow players. Now, follow your father’s advice when it isn’t so convenient; suck it up and get out on the field.
A lot has been made of the Panthers’ Steve Smith’s broken arm sustained while playing in a friendly flag football game. Smith broke the same arm in the latter part of last season as well, although the fractures occurred in two entirely different places. The consensus is that Smith’s behavior was irresponsible, but I couldn’t disagree more. Yes, Smith has a responsibility to his team as a star to keep himself healthy. Yes, he failed to fulfill this responsibility, but that doesn’t make his action irresponsible, per se.
This is not a clone of the Brandon Marshall situation a few years ago when the 6’4″ receiver punched through his television and did damage to his arm. Smith wasn’t rough housing, and I agree with him that the incident was indeed a “freak accident”. I personally have played in several dozen flag football games with the most severe injury I have witnessed being a jammed finger. It would be one thing if he broke his arm in a bar fight or playing tackle football, but we cannot expect athletes to abstain from any non-NFL related activities altogether during their offseasons. We demand athletes retreat into cocoons for six months of the year, when the reality is that they have to work out, where injuries occur. They have families, and they must interact with them. They are human beings, not higher beings, and fans must be accommodating of that fact. Smith’s incident was unfortunate, but was not a product of stupidity or irresponsibility on his part.