If you think you're going to win your fantasy football league this year because you were able to "steal" Maurice Jones-Drew at #4, you are wrong. You'll need much more than that to be competitive this year.
The two keys to winning are simple, and no, I'm not suggesting your 2nd overall pick of Reggie Wayne at #21 will do the trick either.
First, despite the hype and pre-draft, beer-soaked conversation, you can not reach for a player. Trust your instincts and offseason homework.
Avoid leaning on the magazines or latest internet cheat sheets. If you read enough of that hogwash, you'll see every "expert" steals from the other guys, and makes his own version of nonsense.
For more on potential fantasy disappointments for 2009, see the following article.
Second, but just as important as the first, you must find value in players who will play better than their projections would suggest.
That is the premise for this slideshow.
There may be some surprises, some no-brainers, and some that may have you wondering what I'm drinking.
However, it's a very simple game, similar in thesis to the NFL draft. Don't reach for guys too soon and find the hidden gems that everyone else doesn't.
This slideshow features players I feel will be drafted at a much lower position than I have them on my board at this time. I've also avoided any player in the top 10 of their respective positions.
None of these are "sexy" picks. Apparently in fantasy football land, sexy does not also mean value. Again, avoid the hype and question the projections!
Obviously, this is one man's opinion, but one that is presented after sorting through the data and off-season activity with a fine toothed comb.
I hope you enjoy my take on this year's potential value picks. I'm looking to this group to solidify my roster and lead me to a 5th league crown in the last six years.
Though he was a far cry from being Kyle Orton's money man last year, Devin Hester had a respectable season for a guy plucked from the defensive backfield.
He lead the Bears in receiving yardage with 665 on 57 catches.
Let's not forget, Orton couldn't overthrow this guy on a go route if Hester was running backwards.
That could change with the big-time arm of Jay Cutler.
I'd look for Hester to catch around 70 balls and he could top the 1,000 yard mark with his after-the-catch magic. He's a threat to find the end zone any time he has the ball in his hands.
I'm not saying he's a WR-1, but look for big things from Hester in 2009.
Remember when I mentioned none of these picks would be sexy? Hopefully, Kyle Orton will leave his patchy, half-necked beard behind in Chicago. What on earth was that?
Orton, if anything, managed a fairly efficient season with the weapon-challenged Bears last season.
His 2972 yards, 18 TD's, and 12 INT's in 2008 are not earth-moving. However, considering a rookie running back led the team in receptions and a defensive back turned receiver led the team with only 665 receiving yards, you couldn't expect much more, could you?
That should change this year for Orton. He will be throwing to an immensely talented 1-2 combo of Brandon Marshall and Donald Royal.
He also has a very solid offensive line to protect him.
There are a lot of things in Denver I don't particularly care for, and to an extent, this team seems a bit of a mess. I'm not sure what to think of their hiring of Josh McDaniels to start with. Maybe there's something there I just don't get.
Regardless, I feel the unspectacular but efficient, smart Orton can take a huge step forward this year.
If I end up with him as a backup in rounds 10-12, I would be comfortable and content; he could be a matchup-based starter and nice bye-week replacement.
To this point in his career, most would say that Vernon Davis has underachieved, and I'm with you on that note.
Davis was drafted #6 overall by the 49'ers in the 2006 draft, the third-highest selection ever for a tight end. It's hard to live up to that billing.
I would go so far as to say the only mark Davis has left on the NFL was his freakish showing at the 2006 NFL combine, running 4.38 in the 40-yard dash and displaying a 42-inch vertical jump.
He enjoyed a solid season in 2007, catching 52 balls for 509 yards, but fell off the map in 2008, catching only 31 balls for 358 yards.
You also can't forget the "go take a shower" episode with new coach Mike Singletary and they don't exactly have Montana or Young tossing the rock in SF.
However, there are some reasons to believe Davis could fulfill his promising potential.
First and foremost, is the removal of Mike Martz, who has never utilized a tight end efficiently.
Second, new O.C. Jimmy Raye has a history of utilizing tight ends very well at times.
There is some concern that backup tight end Delanie Walker and newly drafted Bear Pascoe could see some time. I see this as a message to light a fire under Davis.
At a position where first to twelfth is minimal in relation to overall points, I might be content to take Davis late, and enjoy his revival act in 2009.
This is a guy I don't expect to begin the season in the starting lineup for your team. And hopefully, not mine either.
He currently is listed anywhere from 15-20 on the quarterbacks list. That's probably where he should be...for now.
The Bills suffered from tremendous inconsistency on the offensive side of the ball last year, and Edwards was a big part of that.
His statistical line of 2,699 yards, 11 touchdowns, and 10 interceptions are far from impressive.
However, he also completed over 65 percent of his passes and had only Lee Evans as a reliable target.
Add one huge ego in Terrell Owens, a now motivated contract-year back in Marshawn Lynch, and a decent 3rd/4th receiver combination in Josh Reed and James Hardy and this doesn't sound like too bad of a supporting cast.
As much as Donovon McNabb will shudder if he reads this, T.O. turned McNabb from a fantasy fill-in to a stud in 2004.
Pre-T.O. McNabb threw for 3,216 yards and 16 TDs in 2003. With T.O. in 2004, McNabb threw for over 3,800 yards and 31 TD's.
Edwards will be a solid QB-2 who could dent your starting lineup by mid-season.
The rock of all things fantasy, LaDainian Tomlinson took an unexpected fall from the graces of the elite last season. Battling groin and toe injuries, Tomlinson endured his worst season as a pro in 2008.
His 1,110 yards were the lowest of his career. His 11 touchdowns were the fewest since his rookie season. He averaged under four yards per carry.
AND...he will join the now considered dead realm of 30-year-old running backs on June 23rd.
Let's not forget the Chargers franchised Darren Sproles for 2009.
Owners may turn a cold shoulder to LT at this year's draft. And that's fine with me.
Now, on to why I'd pick LT if he came to me in the early-to-mid second round.
Tomlinson has never rushed for less than 1,100 yards, had fewer than 10 rushing touchdowns, or caught fewer than 50 passes in a single season.
I also expect to see less of Mr. Rivers, and more running from the Bolts this year. Their defense will be improved with Merriman back in the fold. That means more running the clock in the 4th quarter, and less of #17 running his mouth.
You give me those numbers out of a second round back and I'm dancing late in the season.
As a Marion Barber owner last year, I can tell you his first season as the starting tailback for the Cowboys was...well, let's just say it didn't merit his number 7 overall selection for me.
Yes, I know Barber was hobbled late in the season, but his 3.7 yards per carry and only 7 rushing touchdowns were not what I was expecting.
MB3 plays hard and runs angry, and I truly love that about him, but he also lacks big play ability and turns the Cowboys in to a predictable team to defend, especially minus one T.O.
Felix Jones is an electric back capable of giving Tony Romo a bonified play maker.
I expect his touches to be limited early on, but don't be surprised if he elbows his way in to more of a split situation later in the season. He's just too talented to have on the bench.
Yes...I know Tashard Choice could steal a few carries also, but he won't be the factor that Jones will be.
If you draft Barber in the late-first or second round, make sure you nab Jones to cover your backside. Otherwise, someone else, namely me, will take him earlier than you might expect.
The success of Rashard Mendenhall in 2009 may be based more on the health of "fragile" Willie Parker, than the talent this second-year back brings to the table. That's unfortunate, but a reality.
Parker has played an entire 16-game season only one time in his career and has scored more than 5 touchdowns only once as well.
Hopefully, the Steelers do not settle for a situation where Parker totes the rock between the 20's, and Mendenhall gets the goal line carries.
Mendenhall has the talent and makeup to be a three-down back in the NFL. The Steelers style of football and offensive line schemes are tailored to his strengths.
Obviously, not a starter yet, plan on Mendenhall being a 3rd RB with huge upside if Parker disappoints, or most assuredly, if he misses time with injury.
Early projections are a mid -to- late round selection, however, if I've got two solid ones in the bank, I might reach a bit for Mendenhall. All he needs is a chance.
If you're unfamiliar with Jamaal Charles, you're not alone.
Think Felix Jones, but with a much bigger question mark in front of him in Larry Johnson.
Charles has big play abilities with tremendous speed, great open field vision, and is exceptional catching the ball out of the backfield.
Last year, Charles gained 357 yards, averaging 5.3 ypc. He also caught 27 balls out of the backfield for 272 yards. That's more than 10 yards per reception as a running back!
One hurdle in Charles' development is his spot on the roster. However, if you've tuned in to the offseason saga that is Larry Johnson vs. Kansas City, that question is open to interpretation.
Unless Johnson starts the season unexpectedly strong and keeps his trap shut, don't be surprised to see the Chiefs use Charles more than projected. He can offer Matt Cassel an additional weapon out of the backfield the Chiefs sorely need with their subpar receiving corps.
Likely, only Johnson owners will look to secure Charles before the later rounds, but if you're already solid at RB, take a flyer. I don't think you'll be disappointed.
Sure, TJ is gone, and there is little if any threat of a steady ground game with Cedric Benson.
He had a sub-par 2008 battling a right elbow injury.
All signs point to a career in decline. Or do they?
Cincinnati signed Laveranues Coles to replace Houshmandzadeh and Palmer will, at least until he's in trouble again, have the services of athletic freak Chris Henry.
Let's not forget that from 2005-2007, Palmer averaged 4,000 yds. and 29 touchdowns a season.
Most experts have Palmer pegged outside the top 12, potentially a back up for your over-valued Phillip Rivers or Matt Cassel.
It may take some time, but don't be surprised if he takes a team from your league in to the playoffs with a mid-round selection.
Those who owned Edwards last year won't touch this guy with a 10-foot pole. He was a top 3-5 WR during last year's fantasy draft, yet managed only 55 catches for 873 yards and 3 touchdowns. What a bum!
His 2007 season of 80 catches for 1289 yards and 16 touchdowns had Edwards pegged as an elite WR for Cleveland.
Then came the drops, the struggles of Derek Anderson, more drops, the mediocre play of Brady Quinn, more drops, the injury to Quinn, etc...
Not to mention the anemic running game the Browns mustered in 2008.
I'm not sure the QB situation will be any better in 2009. I'm also not sure Cleveland's ground game will provide much support unless some younger legs, possibly Jerome Harrison, are inserted.
What has changed is the loss of one ball hog at tight end, and hopefully, a renewed focus by Edwards to regain his 2008 season form.
Most have Edwards projected in rounds 5-8.
I don't know if I'd go much higher, but again, don't be surprised if his output exceeds the downward spiral of hype this receiver has stirred since last season.