Fantasy drafts are just around the corner, so now’s the time for the procrastinators among you to start doing your homework. For those of you in keeper leagues, it’s time to begin evaluating last year’s roster to determine which players you should hold on to entering 2009.
Before we launch into this summer’s first keeper analysis article, I’m hosting a live fantasy chat today at 3:30 p.m. eastern. You can access the chat by entering the NFP draft guide and clicking on the tab “News and Analysis” at the top of the page. For those of you who haven’t bought the draft guide yet, you can get your hands on the intel HERE.
In the first part of our keeper league series, the National Football Post is listing the top 30 keepers for the 2009 season and what each fantasy owner should be thinking about when evaluating his roster.
Experience is essential. That doesn’t mean you need a guy who’s been in the league 12 years, but it does mean you need a quarterback who has been under center and knows how to react in every possible situation.
The following statistics represent a breakdown of the top five fantasy quarterbacks from each of the past three years (15 total) using standard scoring.
Years Pro: 6.5
Youngest player in top five: 24 years old (one)
Oldest player in top five: 37 years old (one)
25-29 years old age range: 10 of 15 players
4-8 years of experience: 11 of 15 players
Analysis: Not one quarterback from the past three years cracked the top five in scoring with fewer than three years of experience. In addition, 66 percent of the top fantasy quarterbacks since 2006 were between 25 and 29 years of age. Keepers listed with an asterisk below indicate quarterbacks who fall into this category.
Look for youth because, unlike fine wine, running backs do not get better with age. The body of an NFL running back takes a serious pounding on a weekly basis, which is why younger backs tend to have a better chance for success.
The following statistics represent a breakdown of the top five fantasy running backs from each of the past three years (15 total) using standard scoring.
Years Pro: 4.0
Youngest player in top five: 22 years old (two)
Oldest player in top five: 30 years old (one)
22-27 years old age range: 12 of 15 players
2-6 years of experience: 11 of 15 players
Analysis: Only three running backs in our case study broke into the top five in scoring at an age of 28 years or older. Additionally, eight of the 15 running backs had three years of experience or less. Keepers listed with an asterisk below indicate running backs who fall into this category.
Open season. The wide receiver position cannot be defined by age or experience. The top five fantasy wide receivers in 2008 were all under the age of 27. Conversely, in 2006, the top five fantasy wide receivers were all over the age of 28.
Years Pro: 6.6
Youngest player in the top five: 23 years old (one)
Oldest player in the top five: 34 (one)
25-29 years old age range: seven of 15 players
3-8 years of experience: 10 of 15 players
Analysis: The key is to look for proven talent. Randy Moss is going to be a stud this year and he’s 32 years old. In addition, Calvin Johnson should have another excellent season and he turns 24 years old in September. Look for wide receivers who have made an impact in at least two professional seasons (three would be better, but two solid years will work).
TOP 30 FANTASY KEEPERS
1. Adrian Peterson RB Minnesota Vikings*
2. Matt Forte RB Chicago Bears*
3. Larry Fitzgerald WR Arizona Cardinals
4. Michael Turner RB Atlanta Falcons
5. Chris Johnson RB Tennessee Titans*
6. Andre Johnson WR Houston Texans
7. Steve Slaton RB Houston Texans*
8. Maurice Jones-Drew RB Jacksonville Jaguars*
9. Greg Jennings WR Green Bay Packers
10. Randy Moss WR New England Patriots
11. Drew Brees QB New Orleans Saints
12. Calvin Johnson WR Detroit Lions
13. Frank Gore RB San Francisco 49ers
14. Tom Brady QB New England Patriots
15. Steven Jackson RB St. Louis Rams
16. Reggie Wayne WR Indianapolis Colts
17. Marques Colston WR New Orleans Saints
18. Aaron Rodgers QB Green Bay Packers*
19. Steve Smith WR Carolina Panthers
20. Philip Rivers QB San Diego Chargers*
21. Roddy White WR Atlanta Falcons
22. LaDainian Tomlinson RB San Diego Chargers
23. DeAngelo Williams RB Carolina Panthers*
24. Brandon Jacobs RB New York Giants
25. Peyton Manning QB Indianapolis Colts
26. Derrick Ward RB Tampa Bay Buccaneers
27. Brandon Marshall WR Denver Broncos
28. Anquan Boldin WR Arizona Cardinals
29. Ryan Grant RB Green Bay Packers*
30. Kevin Smith RB Detroit Lions*
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