Don't Go Crazy Preparing for Next Fantasy Football Season

John LorgeSenior Writer IFebruary 6, 2009

The Steelers win in Super Bowl XLIII marks the end of a crazy football season and wherever there is a crazy season there is an even crazier fantasy season.

From Brady's injury in Week 1 to DeAngelo Williams' four touchdowns in Week 16 there were hundreds of predictions that Miss Cleo couldn't have made (she's real right?).

With all of the craziness that occurred, it's easy to get caught up in the commotion. 

Step back, breathe, and use what you learned this season to your advantage.  Try to think back to what you were thinking this time last year. 

If this was your first fantasy football season, ask the guy in your league that drafted Tom Brady what he was thinking (or read on because I was that guy).

Injured Quarterbacks

Two of the top-five quarterbacks, Tom Brady and Carson Palmer, pulled-up lame last season. Tony Romo, Matt Schaub, and Matt Hasselbeck also saw their fair share of injury troubles.

Quarterback injuries are a case by case situation so let’s treat them as such.

Nobody (not even Miss Cleo) knows how Brady will bounce-back this year.  The team expects him to be ready for the first game and they have applied the franchise tag to backup Matt Cassel

I do think Brady is worth a draft pick in 2009 drafts, but only at the right time.  If he falls into the third round you can start weighing his worth. 

If you do draft Brady, highly consider drafting Cassel, or make a point of it.  Cassel had a great year as a starter but don't draft him before Brady's off the board unless Brady is ruled out.

While Brady is returning to an offense that is one season removed from the playoffs, Carson Palmer is returning to an offense in turmoil.

The Bengals are going to lose T.J. Houshmandzadeh in free agency and Chad Ocho Cinco is half of his old self (is that a pun?).

I do not recommend drafting Palmer in the first five rounds of the draft, even if he has fully recovered from injury.

Rookie Running Backs

There were five running backs selected in the first round of the 2008 NFL Draft and 15 rookie running backs worth owning at one point or another in the fantasy season.

Trust me; there will be a few owners in your league going out of their way to find the next Steve Slaton.  Don't be that guy.

While Knowshon Moreno and LeSean McCoy should have very good rookie seasons, this year's crop of rookie running backs is not nearly as deep as 2008.

How can we grow as fantasy owners from the rookie running renaissance of ‘08?

By grabbing the '08 class this year!

Steve Slaton, Matt Forte, Chris Johnson, Kevin Smith, and recently announced Tim Hightower are all No. 1 backs on their teams.  Jonathan Stewart, Darren McFadden, and Felix Jones will all be successful in shared roles and are worth drafting.  Rashard Mendenhall, Ray Rice, Jamaal Charles, Tashard Choice, Peyton Hillis, and Ryan Torain aren't worth draft picks (right now) but could shine in the right situation, so keep your eyes peeled.

This time last year we were only talking about Adrian Peterson, Marshawn Lynch, and Selvin Young from the 2007 class. 

There are only so many carriers to go around per season; the top rookie backs (Moreno, McCoy, Beanie Wells, and Shonn Greene) will always get a chance to play for the teams that need their skills.  Only through injuries will any other rookies be called on in 2009.

Cleveland Browns

Entering last season how did this plan sound?

"I'll take a top running back with my first pick.  Second, I'll draft Braylon Edwards, he had 16 TDs!  You know I gotta pick Derek Anderson with the third pick.  To complete the trifecta I'm grabbing Kellen Winslow II in the fourth.  If the Browns don't score through the air that’s ok because I got Jamal Lewis to punch it in with my fifth round pick.  Championship!"

Don't act like that didn't happen.  If it was you, I'm sorry.  The Browns were lost on offense last year but it doesn't mean they are losers.

The only person expecting more improvement in Braylon Edwards this season than me is Braylon Edwards.  The drops were inexcusable.  Edwards did have a high amount of drops in the 2007 season but he caught the ones that mattered and in 2009 they all matter.

Edwards is entering his fifth season and entering the prime of his career.  He will be working with Brady Quinn all summer and I think we can expect more of what we saw on their Monday Night Football game against the Giants.

Speaking of Brady Quinn, mark him down on your sleeper list.  Mechanically he's on point, he avoids interceptions, and has a big arm.  One of the biggest indicators of fantasy success is who the quarterback is throwing to and Quinn has two Pro Bowl targets.

Now to the other Pro Bowl target.  Kellen Winslow has been in the spotlight for being a solider, popping wheelies, and getting staph.  He also had 82 catches and 1,106 yards in 2007. 

There were too many distractions for Winslow last season, this year there will be more consistency in the Brown's franchise and his stats will put him back in the tight end elite.

Now what to do about Jamal Lewis?

Lewis actually broke the 1000 yard mark season but he did so with a career-low 3.6 yards per carry.  As he ages, Lewis could benefit from a shared back system that focuses on using him in the red zone. 

If the Browns' passing game is back don't shy away from Lewis around pick 75.

To recap: Be careful when picking injured quarterbacks and their replacements, draft the running back class of '08 heavy and '09 light, and believe in the Browns.