So, I woke up this morning, and did what I do every day. I grabbed my cell phone and began to search social networks. I check the date and see that it is July 1st. Then as I search on I learn that Megan Fox has gotten married? Ok that “fantasy”, dead! I mourn for a few moments and remember that there is many more fish in the sea. Then I stop again, and I think “Hey, July 1st, one more month plus and it’s Fantasy Draft Day!” Once again I am at peace with the universe. Brian Austin Green may have taken my love away, but he can’t take my draft picks!
Yes football fans, stat geeks, number crunchers and wing eaters, it is coming faster than you can say Devin Aromashodu (hint,hint), the time of year to prep, study and get cracking with your fantasy squad. Break out the magazines, the note books, the pages you printed last year of the final standings and that one guys trash talking email to the league that you kept by your side for the last 5 or 6 months, as you vowel to take his soul this season. It is time for grown men (or women) to get back to doing “homework”, like we never did in school, and this we actually enjoy.
Last season was a decent year for me. In 3 leagues I had a combined record of 31-12, with one championship and one playoff appearance. No I will not share with you how Jerome Harrison cost me a playoff spot, but you get the gist of it. Money was won, some bragging was done, and I made some new friends along the way and some great people who followed all my articles every week and sought out my advice. I thank them in advance if they choose to return again. I actually sent 2 people to championships!
So, yes today I will mention some names, and some people in new places and what it all means to your fantasy football draft. I will start simple then in the upcoming weeks, break down positions, studs, sleepers etc., and do my very best to help you be ready for August draft day. Maybe for kicks just throw in a picture of some random hot girl, to keep you awake, isn’t that how our teachers should have done it? Sit back, read and relax, and as always, enjoy! Ah, it is so good to be back in “Fantasy Land”.
New faces, new places and impact:
Donovan McNabb, Washington Redskins
Yes, finally number 5’s days in Philly are over. He had a great run as QB, but also had some real big days as a fantasy QB. McNabb is no longer the fleet of feet runner he once was, and in Washington he will not have a full arsenal of weapons like he had in Philly. New head coach Mike Shanahan has gone out and added veteran RB’s and his scheme has always been run first. McNabb’s main receiver will be the aged and often M.I.A. Santana Moss. Yes the Skins did some drafting a few years back of young weapons, but none have panned out. If you’re thinking of taking McNabb, wait, because he will be around a while.
Oh how times change. The ultimate number 1 pick is just another face in the crowd, and now a Jet. L.T. will never get you what he once did, but the Jets have had a great ground game the last few years, led by another 30something in Thomas Jones. If anything Tomlinson will get some throws and some goal line touches, but not enough to see him earlier then round 8 or 9. Drafting him is not a crazy idea, but watch him in camps and pre-season before you decide if and when you would.
Thomas Jones, Kansas City Chiefs
As I mentioned earlier, Jones has been the benefactor of a great Jets line the last few years, and despite being over 30, rushed for over 1,000 yards again. He now will go to KC, and a much less talented line. However his share-time partner Jamaal Charles did good things in a late season push with the Chiefs, so a chance at some production is not crazy talk. These 2 men should expect 50/50 shares as Charles has much better hands, and is much younger. KC may not be ready to be a big offensive club yet, but the ground game is not dead either.
Anquan Boldin, Baltimore Ravens
So, I don’t have to draft Derrick Mason this season and say the infamous phrase “well he is the number 1 receiver there, so he has to catch passes, right?” I can’t really say I have lots of faith in Joe Flacco yet, but if he is a big time NFL QB we will know this season. Boldin has been injured quite a bit lately, and has had his share of rants off the field, but he is still a big target with great hands and very good speed. The Ravens are run first, but have good players at skill positions and Boldin may be able to shake his past and find the form that made him a star in Arizona, at least the Ravens are betting on it, and well, many owners will too. He may not be 2nd round material anymore, but by the 4th someone will be calling his name.
Santonio Homes, New York Jets
The Jets are always busy, and do not seem afraid of guys who have worn out a welcome. Brett Favre, L.T., Braylon Edwards and yes now Holmes. What exactly was the problem with 79 catches, over 1200 yards and 5 TDs? Yes he will serve a 4 game suspension so you should not jump on him too soon, but the Jets are building quite a rack of stud talent on offense. QB Mark Sanchez is getting sharper and this could mean big things in New York. the only question is which Holmes do we get? Do we see Super Bowl MVP Holmes, or the erratic, lazy, off-field mess of Holmes? Only time will tell, and if your fellow draft men sleep, remember Holmes late.
Brandon Marshall, Miami Dolphins
Outside of Andre Johnson, Marshall in my opinion is the best receiver in the game today. Yes Larry Fitzgerald, I love you and your skills, but this is true. No WR in the last 3 seasons has caught more balls then Marshall except Wes Welker, and well many will dispute how many of his catches are more like long hand offs. Last season he grabbed over 100 again with Kyle Orton at QB, yes people that Kyle Orton. You do roll the dice with a guy who is at times a mess off the field, but now he is in Bill Parcells’ country, and the Tuna has a way of making players play. Marshall is big, tough, fast and finds his way to openings very few would dare to see. I feel that the change of scene will bode well for this guy, and QB Chad Henne has shown flashes of being a good NFL QB. Add to it the Wildcat scheme and Marshall should have even more success here then he did in Denver, bank on it.
Antonio Bryant, Cincinnati Bengals
The guy that nobody wanted a few seasons ago is showing he still belongs. In 2008 Bryant caught 83 balls, had over 1200 yards and 7 TDs. Last year he only had 39 grabs, but he was dealing with a QB mess in Tampa. Now give him a great partner in Chad Ochocinco, a good ground game to open it up, and a QB in Carson Palmer, who if he can regain his old form will be Bryant’s best QB to date, and you have the making of a super sleeper star. Bryant has matured a great deal from what he once was, and is a great down field threat. Despite some nagging injuries he still has great speed and the hands to make plays. The Bengals big run of last year is not looking like a fluke. A revamped ground game, a better defense, and now a good compliment of weapons should mean a big time year for Bryant if he can stay healthy and quiet. He will be there late, so do not think about a 6th RB when you can get Bryant.
Ladies and Gentleman, allow me to introduce:
Julian Edelman, WR, New England Patriots
Wes Welkers parents should test DNA on this kid, because it is as if they are twins. Edelman has Welkers hands, speed and ability to catch at the line and create, and until Welker gets healthy, his job. The upside here is that he was a college QB, which can open the door to some new tricks. Edelman will have to compete hard once Welker returns and now shares the offense with Randy Moss, who is in a contract year, and the ageless vet Torry Holt, but make no mistake, he will learn and he will succeed. Take a late round flyer, why not?
Devin Aromashodu, WR, Chicago Bears
24 catches in 10 games does not sound like a great number, but this kids speed has been compared to teammates Devin Hester and Johnny Knox, while his hands have been compared to well, WRs who can truly catch. All four of his TDs came in the final 4 games when he became a starter after Knox went down to injury. Offensive guru Mike Martz takes over the offense this year and has big plans for Cutler, who proves he can be good rolling out, and now has lots of speed to work with. He is the best WR on this team, and by the end of this year he will have the stats to prove it. I know he looks risky being so unknown, but if you take a chance, he will be in your lineup sooner than later.
Mike Wallace, WR, Pittsburgh Steelers
Yes,some of you caught on late last year, but for those who did not, here is Wallace. 39 catches last season and a flare for the deep ball make him the perfect fit to take over where Santonio Holmes left off. It is certain that he will be the number 2 this year, and with Hines ward aging, he should be very active, no matter who they have at QB.
Early Doucet, WR, Arizona Cardinals
Better late than never for Early. In his second year in the league he exploded on the scene in last year’s playoffs, catching 14 passes for 145 yards and 2 TDs in the games against the Packers and Saints. Why so much hype now? Well the Cards felt good enough about him to let Anquan Boldin go and quite frankly his skills are better than the other option, Steve Breaston. Yes Breaston is a good ball player, but Doucet is a very good receiver, and should grab the number 2 slot here. Of course alot of the success of any Cardinal, even Larry Fitzgerald will rely on Matt Leinart, and that’s iffy. Check the depth chart in pre-season before going to him in the draft, but don’t let it end without his name on the board also.
Bernard Scott, RB, Cincinnati Bengals
Some of you desperate drafters may have met him briefly last year, but probably forgot about him real quick after that week of filler. Scott is a good return guy and now is the number 2 back behind Cedric Benson. We have all seen what Benson can be in the past, so Scott is one simple meltdown away from being the lead back here. He also has good hands and can cut on a dime, things Benson does not do. When the draft gets a little later, you will be smart to make him your 5th RB selected, and if you are in any kind of keeper league, you may be looking at the Bengals opening day starter very soon.
Brian Hartline, WR, Miami Dolphins
What Eddie Royal looked like he could be, Hartline very well can be. Working opposite of Brandon Marshall has to payoff for a number 2 you would think, right? With very little to lean on last year, Hartline, who was essentially the Dolphns 4th choice, still managed 31 catches, and over 16 yards per catch and 3 TDs. His numbers came late in the year, and despite having 45 less catches then teammate Davone Bess he had more TDs. Now in no way am I making a guarantee here, but with the fate of Ted Ginn fading, Bess and his inability to find the end zone, and Greg Camarillo being the other option, you may see Hartline as the number 2 and with it 60 plus catches and about 7 TD’s. I know that’s not super star numbers, but it is a big breakout for a guy very few have really heard of until now!
Hey Rook, carry my bags!
Rookies will be in the highest demand ever this season as many will walk into starting roles or high profile jobs. Here is a look at some first year players you may want to consider. Hey remember Percy Harvin? I’m sure the guy that drafted him does!
Ryan Matthews, RB, San Diego Chargers
Draft a rookie RB in the first round?! Are you insane?! Perhaps, but if you pick at the end of round 1 and need a back who will carry the load and be effective, then you have to consider Matthews. The Chargers have had a rich history of fantasy points at RB, even if LT was not the back. They have a good QB, a proven offensive line and a coach who loves to run the ball. Last year in college Matthews racked up 1,800 yards and 19 TDs, so you can tell he knows how to play the game. He is big but quick and can do damage, and at only 23, he can certainly handle a rock 25 times a game. Yes it is a stretch for a first round pick, but how many of us picked Steve Slaton in the first round last year? Come on, how many? You know you did, so this can’t be any worse.
C.J. Spiller, RB, Buffalo Bills
No, you are not being told to grab him as early as Matthews, but Spiller can be a force if Marshawn Lynch is moved out of Buffalo. Why else would he take him so early in the draft? Lynch fell out of favor last year when he was easily outplayed by Fred Jackson. Spiller is lightning in a bottle as he possesses tremendous speed, and also has good hands. Last season he rushed for 1,200 yards and 4 TDs, but here in Buffalo he is the home run hitter this team has longed for. It won’t be too long before he hits the field.
Jahvid Best, RB, Detroit Lions
Hey, we all like to get excited about something for the Lions, and this kid is as good as any reason. Best and his game-breaking speed is having him touted as this years, get ready for this, Chris Johnson. He is really fast, and really tough to bring down. Last season he fell to injury and played only 9 games, but the season before, when healthy, he tallied 1,580 yards and 15 TDs. Now that the Lions have a QB of the future, an awesome number 1 receiver and some nice compliments, Best can have some room here, and with Kevin Smith out with injury to start camp, the city is his to own. Don’t try and get cute and think he will be there around round 7, because he won’t.
Ben Tate, RB, Houston Texans
Imagine walking off a bus and being told you are now Jessica Biel’s husband, and will be making 100 million dollars a year just for being you. That is what it has to feel like for Ben Tate. The Texans have one of the NFL’s best offenses and all they need now is a proven winner at RB. Steve Slaton’s fumbles and Arian Fosters, well whatever he has, makes Tate a very logical choice here as the starter. Remember what Slaton did 2 years ago when he was thrust into this offense? At the time he kind of learned on the fly, while Tate will have plenty of time to work and think like the lead back. Head coach Gary Kubiak learned run offense from the modern day master, Mike Shanahan, and if Houston can play the one-cut scheme anything like the Broncos of that era, then Tate will be your Rookie of the Year, and your fantasy teams MVP.
When Jerry Jones says, “he really likes you”, chances are you are a special player. Who could forget Jones jumping through hoops to make sure the Cowboys got Felix Jones, and how good does he look when he’s healthy? Bryant had some question marks coming in here, but he looks like a beast in the mini-camps. He’s tall, fast and has sleek moves, and combine that with an always improving Tony Romo, and new found sensation Myles Austin (who in fact now has the Kardashian luck on his side) how can he go wrong? Well he can if he does not work hard, but you get the feeling from what we have seen of him so far that he really wants this, and the Cowboys are looking very much like favorites in the NFC early on.
Golden Tate, WR, Seattle Seahawks
New coach Pete Carroll saw enough of this guy in college to know he is special and to bring him here to Seattle. The Seahawks will start the season with its 2 veteran WRs Deion Branch and T.J. Houshmanzadeh trying to come back from injury, and Nate Burleson is gone, which leaves lots of playing time for Tate. He is an all around player, returner, some running back etc. and last year while at Notre Dame caught 93 passes for close to 1,500 yards and 15 TDs. Yes the pro game is tough on new WRs, but this guy has the skill to be great. Of course his QB situation is going to be a tough fight, but hey, he can even make the short stuff turn to gold, um or Golden?
Sam Bradford, QB, St. Louis Rams
I will never tell you to draft a rookie QB. I will never dare tell you to start one unless desperate, or he somehow makes the numbers look good. What I am here to tell you is that if you are in a keeper league, or get desperate, take a look at Bradford. The Rams continue to rebuild, but have some good young WRs and of course the workhorse Steven Jackson. Anyone who follows this team knows that Jackson alone can account for 10 catches a game and given space can ramble for TDs, so Bradford can stand for something. 2 years ago, before his injury he threw for 50 td passes, so he does know how to move the ball, only question is, how long does it take him at this level?
Tim Tebow, QB, Denver Broncos
Once again I speak to the keeper leaguers here. Tebow will be Denver’s man in the near future, and for now will still see some playing time. He is expected to see some Wildcat and specialty plays, and from what we have seen of him in college, he does not take well to no-gainers or failed plays. He is a rugged kid with a true nose for football. True, some people may wish ill-fate on him as he was never seen as lovable, but others are rooting hard, and how can’t you? He will give it his all for sure, and he should be on a fantasy roster is deep leagues as a flex player. Tim Tebow will be a goal-line guy, and a trick play guy, but this I feel good about, he will get a chance to QB long before recently added back-up Brady Quinn.
Well here is your first installment of many to come. Remember fantasy football may be for fun, but it sure is nice to brag when you win!
If you’d like to hear anything else from me on topics or ideas I can be reached at [email protected]
Get your NFL jerseys discounted now on Amazon.com by clicking here
Check out the NFL Film Classics – Legends of Autumn, Vols. 1-3 DVD by clicking here.
Join ESPN Insider today for the best sports analysis online, plus ESPN The Magazine!
Order the Madden NFL 10: Official Strategy Game Guide by clicking here.