Every season there are fantasy football players that go from studs to duds due to a variety of intangibles. Some of those players bounce back, while most are never able to regain fantasy supremacy. Today I look at five fantasy football comeback players to watch in 2010.
LaDainian Tomlinson – L.T. was a number one pick just a few seasons ago, yet he is barely ranked in the top 50 RBs on most 2010 preseason running back rankings. I know that you shouldn’t read a lot into preseason but L.T. has been downright awesome in his short life with the New York Jets. He is averaging almost six yards a carry on a very short amount of rush attempts. I am starting to think that the drop in LaDainian Tomlinson’s productivity may be more related to the San Diego Chargers offensive line than his own skills.
Tomlinson is now running behind arguably the best offensive line in the NFL. Check out Thomas Jones’ numbers in K.C. or Leon Washington’s in Seattle if you have any doubt about the impact of this o-line. I think L.T. will be used as a third-down back as both a dual threat running and catching. Add in the fact that Joe McKnight has been a bust thus far in camp, and L.T. has great fantasy potential. He has been turning short catches into fantasy gold this preseason. I am a bit of hypocrite because I was highly critical of L.T. in a previous fantasy blog. Three fantasy football games in and I have turned my opinion around.
Look, you’d have to be a fool to count on drafting LaDainian Tomlinson as your starting or second running back. But I’d almost consider taking a shot on him with your third running back slot depending upon who is available. It doesn’t matter if L.T. is the lead back or not for the Jets. If he is taking short carries in for six at least once a game, he is worth a pick. He is also entering the season looking like a great potential to be fantasy football comeback player of the year.
Just three seasons ago Terrell Owens was averaging 16.7 yards a catch! Last season was the first time since 2005 that he didn’t have double digit touchdowns, and he didn’t play a full season in 2005. He doesn’t have any touchdowns in preseason, but he has had big gains. I think his speed is still there but most importantly, his push off is still there which makes him very dangerous in open space.
Defenses are going to have to account for Cedric Benson, Chad Ochocinco, and Terrell Owens. T.O. is likely to benefit more than anyone getting linebacker or nickel back coverage. The Bengals have enormous offensive potential and I love T.O. in this position. The Bengals will be playing a lot of pass defenses that look weak on paper. Unlike L.T., I would draft him higher among receivers than I would L.T. among running backs. Get your popcorn ready, T.O. is back!
Jason Witten – In 2007 Jason Witten was a fantasy beast. Since 2007 his numbers have dropped dramatically, specifically his touchdowns. Tony Romo is starting the season once again with a different supporting cast around him. The addition of Dez Bryant and the emergence of Miles Austin through a regular season could open up some big opportunities for Witten.
The Cowboys have a few teams on their schedules this season that had terrible defenses against the tight end last season. The Dallas Cowboys have had some serious issues on offense this preseason, but I wouldn’t worry too much. I am not a Cowboys fan at all, but I can recognize greatness in fantasy football and Tony Romo has been pretty solid the last few years. To reclaim his fantasy status, he will need big numbers out of Witten and I think he gets them.
Jake Delhomme – Jake Delhomme is the only quarterback on this list and with good reason. I really don’t see any other quarterback that has the chance to turn around his fantasy fortunes as much as Jake Delhomme. How much worse can he get after 18 interceptions last year?
Like L.T., I always wondered whether Jake Delhomme’s decline was more a product of his surroundings or declining skills. Well if preseason is any indication, Jake Delhomme has been reborn. He has looked fantastic in preseason with his new team the Cleveland Browns. He hasn’t thrown any interceptions and has a QB rating of 110.5 thus far. Jake has been great in the red zone, a place he used to meltdown last season. Yes it’s only preseason, but there is a lot to be excited about here Browns fans.
Eric Mangini has never been known as a quarterback coach, but something is clicking in Cleveland thus far. The true test of course will be how Jake handles throwing his first interception because it is going to happen. I recently broke down the top fantasy football quarterbacks and one thing became painfully clear. After the top six, there aren’t any sure bets at all. You have just as much upside taking Jake Delhomme as you have downside of Matt Ryan being unable to break out of his sophomore slump. I really like Jake the Snake this season and think a lot of those fans who booed him in Carolina will be begging him to come back by November.
The Lions are not going to pull a St. Louis Rams style turnaround from worst to first this season. But there is no denying that they are a much improved football team on both sides of the ball. The team believes in their coach and their quarterback. He had twelve touchdowns two seasons ago with a much less talented quarterback.
Unlike the above players, I would take Calvin Johnson as your number one receiver if you have the chance. The only risk in taking Calvin Johnson is him and his quarterback’s health. There isn’t much of a chance that his skills erode or decline. I believe that Calvin Johnson will finish the season in the top three wide receivers when it comes to fantasy football points. I think Calvin Johnson breaks through and finally becomes the elite receiver fantasy football experts have predicted that he would be.
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