With Fantasy Football season just around the corner, and draft preparation’s just beginning, here’s a look at some guys worth drafting sooner than you might think.
I’m throwing out obvious choices like Peyton Manning, Adrian Peterson, and Larry Fitzgerald, and concentrating on guys that might fly under the radar a little.
Brown is coming off a year where he had a career-best 11 touchdowns, and helped unleash the “Wildcat” offense for the Miami Dolphins.
He split time with Ricky Williams, but was still able to amass 1,170 scrimmage yards while rebounding from a torn ACL he suffered in 2007.
Don’t forget that in the first seven games prior to his injury in 2007, Brown averaged 5.1 yards per carry, totaled 1,170 scrimmage yards, and scored four touchdowns.
He was well under way to a great fantasy season.
With another year under his belt after ACL reconstruction, and Williams now 32, look for Brown to get even more carries and re-establish himself as a top tier running back in fantasy.
Look to draft him in the mid to late second round of most 12 team drafts.
Projected 2009 totals: 1,127 rushing yards, 312 receiving yards, 12 total touchdowns
Ok, so Johnson isn’t really a guy that will fly under the radar this year, but since he’s not the only running back in the Tennessee Titans backfield, people may think they can wait until the second round to grab this guy. Don’t!
Johnson burst on to the fantasy scene in 2008 with 1,488 total yards from scrimmage, and 10 total touchdowns, while splitting time with LeDale White.
Even know White stole a bunch of touchdowns—15 to be exact—Johnson was still able to produce like a No. 1 fantasy running back.
Look from him to improve on those numbers in his second season in the league.
He will still lose goal-line carries to White—which really upset me last year considering I had Johnson in two of my leagues—but with the Titans run-first oriented offense, don’t let that prevent you from drafting him.
I expect Johnson to get more carries between the 20’s this year, which together with his lightening fast speed, and the ability to go the distance every time he touches the ball, should translate into a couple more rushing touchdowns alone.
Johnson should be drafted in the first round of all fantasy drafts.
Projected 2009 totals: 1,403 rushing yards, 297 receiving yards, 13 total touchdowns
I know, McNabb is getting old, but I think he’s got something left in the tank. He was finally able to stay healthy for a full season last year, and his numbers reflected it.
Prior to last season, he had only thrown for more than 3,800 yards and 22 touchdowns once, and that was in 2004 when he tossed 31 touchdowns, and passed for 3,875 yards in Terrell Owens’ first year with the team.
Last year he threw for a career best 3,916 yards.
He can still run with the ball too, gaining 147 yards on 39 carries, and scoring 2 touchdowns on the ground.
With DeSean Jackson entering his second year, and rookie speedster Jeremy Maclin joining the Eagles via the draft, McNabb finally has two viable options at receiver.
The additions of Jason Peters and Stacy Andrews at offensive tackle, and LeSean McCoy at running back, should only help.
If Kevin Curtis can come back from an injury plagued 2008 season, and second year guy Brent "Tom" Celek step in and give them a better option at tight-end, it will only bolster McNabb’s fantasy value even more.
McNabb probably has only one more, maybe two, really good years left in him, and I think this year will be one of those. Don’t let him slip past the early to mid fourth round.
Projected 2009 totals: 3,984 passing yards, 198 rushing yards, 26 total touchdowns
This guy is a ball hock with 112 receptions in 2007, and 111 last year, without an injured Tom Brady. Well, Brady's back, and Welker should only benefit from it.
He’s averaged 1,170 yards receiving the last two years, and the only thing keeping him from being a top five wide receiver is his lack of touchdowns.
He’s already there in points per reception leagues, and I think he gets closer this year in standard scoring leagues.
With Randy Moss getting all the attention on the outside, and the pass happy offense that is the New England Patriots, look for Welker to catch a lot of balls up the middle, and make plays in the open field.
I can’t imagine him catching more balls this season then last, but I think he will be more active in the red zone with the Patriots having confidence in Brady to thread the needle, something they didn’t with Matt Cassell.
Look to draft Welker in the late third, or early fourth round, in standard scoring leagues, and the early third round in points per reception leagues.
Projected 2009 totals: 1,188 receiving yards, 8 total touchdowns
Olsen started to show his potential at the end of last year, where he scored three of his team leading five touchdowns, in the month of December.
He ended up catching 54 passes for 574 yards, his third season in the NFL, and that was with Kyle Orton at quarterback.
Enter Jay Cutler, the new starting quarterback for the Chicago Bears, and Olsen’s new best friend.
With the Bears lack of a number one receiver, and Desmond Clark’s skills clearly diminishing, look for Cutler to throw Olsen’s way early and often.
He’s a big target at 6'5", 255 pounds, and will benefit from Cutler’s ability to fit passes in tight spots.
Cutler’s known for utilizing his tight-ends, especially in the red-zone, so look for Olsen to have a breakout fantasy year.
Consider drafting Olsen as a number one tight-end in the late sixth round, early seventh round.
Projected 2009 totals: 944 receiving yards, 8 total touchdowns