It's not even July, and the masses of fantasy football freaks are already stirring. Whether it started when your annoying co-worker tried convincing you to join his league, or randomly one night when your wife fell asleep and you began plotting strategies, there's no doubt that the fantasy football draft has crossed your mind.
Clearly, there is no longer a debate as to who is the No. 1 pick. But who is No. 2? Who should be the first wide receiver to be drafted? Does Brees go before Brady? These are the new questions.
This list ranks what I feel are the top 20 draft picks for 2009. Beside each player is a brief explanation for their ranking. Good luck this season, fantasy freaks!
1. Adrian Peterson, RB, MIN
"AD" is easily the most dominant player in the NFL. The addition of Favre would only help, as defensive backs wouldn’t be able to sag off WRs to guard the run. Favre's presence would also improve 24-year old Peterson's amount of catches.
But regardless of what happens with Minnesota's QB situation, their RB is the number one fantasy pick.
2. Matt Forte, RB, CHI
He and Cutler will undoubtedly complement one another. Their chemistry, plus key offensive line acquisitions like Orlando Pace, will help him to 1,500 rushing yards and 500 receiving. Forte, who is also only 24, is destined for greatness.
3. Michael Turner, RB, ATL
Possibly the biggest piece of the Falcons’ 2008 turn-around, the Burner will cruise to 1,500 yards and lead the league in rushing touchdowns. He won't see 377 carries like 2008, but he'll still be explosive every time he touches the ball.
4. Chris Johnson, RB, TEN
With a year of experience under his belt, Johnson will see an increase in touches and adapt a better receiving game. His quickness is impossible to ignore, and with a little sophomore-year confidence, don't expect him to share TDs with LenDale White as much in 2009.
5. Steven Jackson, RB, StL
The Rams’ rebuilding stage started with a revamped offensive line to help support Jackson’s dominance. He’s the man, but the workload may wear on his roughed-up body (he was hampered by a quad injury last season).
If the Rams put all their eggs in his basket, Action Jackson might be hurtin' for certain.
6. Maurice Jones-Drew, RB, JAC
He's a force running down the middle or to the outside, and has superb catching ability out of the backfield or running out of play-actions. Don't be too discouraged by his sub-par performance last season—with the added touches due to the departure of Fred Taylor, he'll bounce back to top-back status in '09.
7. Randy Moss, WR, NE
The only thing hurting him fantasy-wise is fellow wide out Wes Welker’s catch total. But, QB Tom Brady is returning, so get ready for some bombs. Expect Moss to collect at least 1,500 yards and 14 touchdowns if Brady remains healthy the entire year.
There's good reason why they are already one of the most incredible QB-WR combinations in history—they're great to begin with, but together they make each other greater.
8. Larry Fitzgerald, WR, ARI
He’s got height, strength, leaping ability, great hands, and a connection with a veteran QB. He's fully capable of catching 100 passes and scoring 15 times. And judging by his postseason performance last season, this year will be all Larry in Arizona.
9. Tom Brady, QB, NE
He’s baaack! And he’ll make up for lost time. He won’t throw 50 TDs like two years ago, but with newly-acquired help at running back, it's not necessary.
He’ll settle for 35—with 4,500 yards. Remember the fact that he's still seething over the Patriots' 2007 Super Bowl loss to the New York Giants. That doesn't mean you should forget about the ACL/MCL injury—he's an obvious risk.
10. Frank Gore, RB, SF
A consistent stud playing for a consistent dud, Gore gives 110 percent every game, and is always capable of 1,200 yards. If his ankle stays healthy, and Mike Martz can improve the 49ers even slightly, this is the year that he will break the double-digit mark in touchdowns.
11. Drew Brees, QB, NO
It seems like Brees gets better each year. But this year, he’ll be outperformed by fantasy counterpart Brady. He’ll rival Brady's passing yardage with about 4,500 yards, but he'll finish about five TDs short.
The obvious advantage to picking Brees over Brady, however, is the fact that he isn't coming off major surgery.
12. LaDainian Tomlinson, RB, SD
Although he’s not the LT of a few years ago, he’s still LT. He’s got a couple more years of being considered a No. 1 fantasy running back, but with injury concerns and the presence of speedy backup Darren Sproles, don't take him in the top ten.
13. Andre Johnson, WR, TEX
Johnson is capable of having the quietest 1,500 yard, 10 touchdown season in the NFL. He deserves more credit for his elite talent. If Matt Shaub stays within his game and off the disabled list, Johnson could be the top wide-out in 2009.
14. DeAngelo Williams, RB, CAR
Jonathan Stewart will oftentimes steal his thunder, but no one can take away from Williams' talent. Even if coach John Fox makes the two RBs share the ball, Williams will get 1,300 yards and 10 TDs.
15. Steve Slaton, RB, TEX
Slaton was a key piece to the Texans’ puzzle during last year's insurgence. But his unexpected 2008 numbers could very well be as good as it gets for him, as Texas aims to employ a larger back to help shoulder the load.
He's good, but Slaton isn’t top-10 fantasy material.
16. Calvin Johnson, WR, DET
One of the bright spots in Detroit, Johnson catches almost anything in his vicinity. He’s got height, speed, and agility, and he runs routes to perfection. Even if the Lions stink, Johnson will score.
17. Clinton Portis, RB, WAS
He shouldn't get anywhere near his ’08 total of 342 carries, and if he does, the Redskins should take out an insurance plan. Portis is 28 now, which, with the workload Washington has demanded, is more like 32 in RB years.
18. Brandon Jacobs, RB, NYG
The spotlight’s on the big guy now, and he’ll gladly accept the promotion. With fellow RB Derrick Ward leaving New York, expect Jacobs to improve on his total yards (1,089 in '08), but there's no way he'll score 15 touchdowns again.
19. Greg Jennings, WR, GB
Happy with a fresh contract extension, Jennings will pick up where he left off in ’08, delighting Cheeseheads and destroying the Vikings, whether or not they have Favre. Though Green Bay has many receiving options, Aaron Rodgers' favorite target will continue to be No. 85.
20. Steve Smith, WR, CAR
Smith, suspended the first two games of ’08, will lead the league in yards-per-catch and greatly increase his total amount of TDs this season. His talent alone begs for him to be placed on any NFL offensive top-20 list. He will always be worth the risk in the second round.
ON THE BUBBLE: Marion Barber, RB, Dallas; Brian Westbrook, RB, Philadelphia; Roddy White, WR, Atlanta; Ronnie Brown, RB, Miami; Peyton Manning, QB, Indianapolis; Brandon Marshall, WR, Denver; Anquan Boldin, WR, Arizona; Terrell Owens, WR, Buffalo.