As we wind down the 2008 NFL season, it’s time to start thinking about which players you’ll be designating on your fantasy roster as your “keepers.” Some of you might have already figured that out by week one or possibly midseason, while others are still pondering the thought.
In this blog, I will be giving you the top eight keepers for each of the four major positions which are, quarterbacks, running backs, wide receivers, and tight ends.
It is very important that you pay close attention to each and every player that you’re considering, and do as much research on them as you can. Make sure you’re aware of their contract situation, their age, possible coaching changes, and also free agent additions or losses that may impact your player and his team.
So...without further ado, here are your Top Eight Keepers for each position.
Drew Brees: In 2008, Brees was only 16 yards short of Dan Marino’s single-season passing yards record, and has become the only QB other than Marino to pass for more than 5,000 yards in a season.
In addition to his passing yardage and 34 TDs passes, he was able to pull this off with an inconsistent running game. He was also without the help of his two main targets, Marques Colston and Jeremy Shockey, who missed significant time due to injury.
With the return of Colston, Shockey, and Reggie Bush next season, and also with the emergence of RB Pierre Thomas, you should expect the same kind of performance or better.
Tony Romo: Had Romo not missed three games due to injury, he would have passed for over 4,000 yards and between 30-32 TDs. With the return of a healthy Marion Barber and Felix Jones next season, and also with an entire offseason to work on a plan to get newly acquired Roy Williams involved, you should expect big things from Romo.
Peyton Manning: With only four TD passes in the first four games of the season, Manning still managed 27 TDs and 4,000 yards for the entire season. Aside from the Colts’ early struggles, they were also missing Joseph Addai, Dallas Clark, and Marvin Harrison at one point or another.
While I’m not expecting Harrison to return to old form, I am expecting big things from Anthony Gonzalez. Regardless of the situation, Peyton Manning is a Hall-of-Fame QB and I can’t possibly see him having a bad season until further down the road.
Jay Cutler: Cutler started the season on fire while passing for eight TDs in the first three games, but fizzled when it was most important in the last three while only passing for two TDs. Amidst the inconsistencies, he still put together a 4,526 yard season and 25 TD passes.
He’s a great, young QB (turning 26), equipped with great young talented receivers in Brandon Marshall, Eddie Royal, and Tony Scheffler and, regardless of their new coach, if they can field a good running game (or better yet a healthy one. Seven RBs were put in IR in 2008), I’m expecting his numbers to be the same or better.
Aaron Rodgers: After holding the clipboard for three season, Aaron Rodgers finally got his chance to become a starting QB and he did not disappoint. Although you wouldn’t notice it in the win column, Rodgers capped off the season with a 308 yard/three TD performance, which put him at 4,038 Yds/28 TDs/13 Ints for the season.
With less pressure from the entire NFL and fans in 2009, Rodgers should again have a great season.
Phillip Rivers: Much like Cutler and Rodgers, Rivers was a late round gem for fantasy owners who waited to make their pick at QB. He rewarded them with a 4,009 yard/34 TD/11 Int season, while leading the NFL in passing rating at 105.5.
There might be a coaching change in the offseason, and the decline of LaDainian Tomlinson’s play might also be an issue, but Phillips will not be short on targets (literally) with weapons like Antonio Gates (6’4”), Vincent Jackson (6’5”), and Malcolm Floyd (6’5”).
Matt Ryan: The Falcons kept Ryan on the leash for his first game when he only threw for 13 attempts. Those 13 attempts quickly turned into 40 on the next game after they realized how special this kid could be.
With the help of Michael Turner, Ryan was able to turn a 4-12 team around into a playoff team, while also turning Roddy White into an absolute beast at WR. There’s no reason to think he won’t improve on his 3,400 yard/16 TD next season, with at least 10 more TDs and possibly 4,000 yards.
Michael Turner should provide a great running game along with Jerious Norwood, as WR Michael Jenkins and second-year WR Harry Douglas should make more of an impact.
Eli Manning: I don’t see much upside with Eli, but if you’re satisfied with a QB who’ll put up decent numbers every week and can stay healthy, then Eli is your man. He doesn’t usually pass for more then 3300 yards or 24 TDs, but his INTs did decrease this past season from an average of 18 to just 10.
The status of Plaxico Burress is uncertain at the moment, but it didn’t seem to bother Eli this season, as Domenik Hixon and Steve Smith stepped up. Overall, the Giants may have the look of a dynasty for the next few years to come and with their killer running game, Eli just might be a Randy Moss away from a Brady-like 2007 monster season.
Notable Mention: Matt Cassel.
The problem with Cassel is that we’re currently unsure if he’ll end up with a different team or back in New England as a starter or backup to Brady. There’s also the possibility that they’ll franchise him and trade him once they figure out Brady’s situation.
Regardless, there’s just too many question marks to go with Cassel as a keeper but it comes with high reward if it works out.
It is too early to make a decision on Brady because of his current status so if you’re league allows you enough time before choosing your keepers, do take advantage. Kurt Warner is coming off back-to-back good fantasy seasons but his age is due to show at some point.
When you factor in that he is now a free agent and the Cardinals still have hope that Leinart will eventually become their franchise QB, you should think twice about Warner.
If you have room, it wouldn’t be a bad a idea to look at both of these QBs. At some point, you have to wonder if Leinart is ever going to be a decent starting QB. After watching Warner these past two seasons, it’s almost impossible to think that the former Heisman winner is incapable of producing the same kind of numbers with Fitzgerald, Boldin, and Breaston to throw to.
With Warner due for free agency, Leinart’s time is now or never so pay close attention to how this develops.
Another situation you need to look out for is in Kansas City. In only 10 starts (excluding week two in Oakland before they adapted the spread offense), Thigpen managed to throw for 18 TD passes and led all NFL QBs in rushing yards. Herman Edwards may soon be gone, along with Off. Coordinator Chan Gailey, and along with that may go the spread offense.
The Chiefs have the third overall pick in April’s draft and many predict they’ll either go with Matt Stafford or Sam Bradford. My gut feeling is that Thigpen showed enough potential to get another shot next season, and if they keep the spread offense in the playbooks, Thigpen is definitely worth a long look.
To view the rest of my rankings, please click on the following links: