In my earlier article I talked about five players worth drafting a little sooner than you might think for the upcoming fantasy season.
Now let’s look at five guys you should think twice about before drafting them too early.
Most of these guys have been considered fantasy studs for several seasons. and high on people’s cheat sheets. But I think several factors have knocked them down some for the upcoming fantasy season.
Coming off the worst season of production since his rookie campaign, Tomlinson is hoping to prove that he’s still an elite fantasy back in 2009. Unfortunately, I don’t think it’s in the cards for “LT.”
His injuries have started to add up, and the fact that he has averaged 332 carries per year since his first season in 2001, doesn’t help matters.
Oh, and he turns 30 before the season starts, and we all know what that means for a running back (see Marshall Faulk or Shaun Alexander).
Another cause for concern for Tomlinson is Darren Sproles. After his performance in the playoffs last year, he was slapped with the franchise tag by the San Diego Charges this offseason, which shows they are committed to using him in the offense this year.
Don’t get me wrong, LT is still going to produce some pretty good numbers, but not as a No. 1 fantasy running back anymore.
Let someone else waste their first or second round pick on him, and if he’s still available in the third round, grab him then.
2009 Fantasy Projections: 1,037 rushing yards, 139 receiving yards, nine total touchdowns
Smith had 1,412 yards receiving last year for the Carolina Panthers, which was third in the NFL behind Larry Fitzgerald and Andre Johnson, but he ranked a paltry 18th in receiving touchdowns with only six.
In fact, he’s only averaged seven touchdowns a year since his monster 2005 season when he had 12.
The fact that he had that many yards in only 14 games, and with only 78 receptions (a career-best 18.2 average), means one thing: He did a whole lot with the ball after he caught it.
With plenty of question marks at the quarterback position with Jake Delhomme and the Panthers' running attack starting to flourish, I only see Smith’s numbers declining even more.
Defenses will only have to key on him, with the only other option at receiver being the 35-year-old Muhsin Muhammad and no proven tight end.
Smith should still give owners some good production, but no longer will he warrant a pick before the third round. I see him being drafted in the mid-to-late fourth round.
2009 Fantasy Projections: 1,149 receiving yards, seven total touchdowns
Romo has had some damn good fantasy seasons the last three years, averaging 3,502 passing yards and 27 touchdowns, and that’s with only 39 starts. Not too shabby.
Unfortunately, the guy that caught 38 of Romo’s 71 career touchdown passes, “the player” as Bill Parcells would refer to him, is in Buffalo now.
Couple that with the idea that the Dallas Cowboys will look to utilize the one-two punch in their backfield that I call “Crush” (Marion Barber) and “Flush” (Felix Jones) only hurts his value even more in my opinion.
Yes, he still has Jason Witten, and now Roy Williams can become the No. 1 receiver, but who’s going to spread the field in this offense and get in the end-zone like T.O. did?
While Williams is a pretty good receiver, he has never scored more than eight touchdowns in a season, and has only one season with more than 900 yards receiving.
That leaves Miles Austin and Patrick Crayton left for Romo to connect with. Two guys that have 18 and 159 career receptions respectively.
Um, yeah, no thanks!
Romo will still be a serviceable fantasy quarterback, but I no longer consider him in the top five. I see him sliding down several spots to around eighth, so look for him to be drafted in the late fourth round.
2009 Fantasy Projections: 3,743 passing yards, 68 rushing yards, 27 total touchdowns
Some would say that, after the Indianapolis Colts released Marvin Harrison this offseason, Wayne’s value might jump. I happen to not be part of that group.
While Wayne did put up good numbers last year without Harrison (82 receptions, 1,145 yards receiving, and six touchdowns), they were nowhere near his numbers from 2007 with Harrison (104 receptions, 1,510 yards receiving, 10 touchdowns).
In fact, other than 2007, Wayne has only had one other season with double digit touchdowns.
With Harrison gone, teams only have to worry about Dallas Clark in the middle of the field and Wayne on the outside.
Sure, Anthony Gonzalez isn’t bad, but I don’t think too many teams are going to be concerned with a guy that has 1,240 yards receiving and seven touchdowns in 29 career games.
The talent level around him, besides Peyton Manning, isn’t the only problem either. The Colts have had one of the busiest offseasons in the NFL.
Not with free-agents, but their coaching staff.
Offensive line coach Howard Mudd, head coach Tony Dungy, and probably the biggest loss for the Colts offense, offensive coordinator Tom Moore, are all gone. This will be the first year Manning, and Wayne, play without Moore as their offensive coordinator since coming into the league.
That doesn’t spell fantasy greatness to me, and pushes Wayne down my list of top wide receivers to draft, moving him into the early to mid third round.
2009 Fantasy Projections: 1,169 receiving yards, eight total touchdowns
Steven Jackson, or the “Predator” as I call him, looks to rebound from an injury riddled season.
Talk about a guy who has all the talent in the world, but no one around him to help. He makes Lebron James look like he’s playing with the Eastern Conference All-Stars.
Jackson comes into this season looking to stay healthy for a complete 16-game schedule for the first time since 2006, which coincidentally, was his monster season.
Don’t count on it!
The Rams' offensive line is terrible, which is going to make it even tougher for Jackson to find holes. They are also moving to the West Coast offense this year, which usually takes a couple seasons to learn.
Even if for some crazy reason Jackson stays healthy for the entire year, he’s the only guy on the St. Louis Rams that’s worth a crap now that Torry Holt is gone.
Defenses are going to stack the box with seven and eight guys and make Marc Bulger beat them. Good luck with that.
Not to mention, the Rams will be down in probably every game they play, so running the ball won’t be an option.
Most people will still draft Jackson with their first round pick, but I would steer clear. He might be worth a late second or early third round, and that’s if he plays the entire season, but that’s it.
2009 Fantasy Projections: 1,086 rushing yards, 376 receiving yards, nine total touchdowns