Top-30 Fantasy Keepers

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Top-30 Fantasy Keepers
(Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)

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.

Quarterbacks

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.

Age: 28.0
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.

Running Backs

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.

Age: 25.3
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.

Wide Receivers

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.

Age: 27.9
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*

Hit me up on Twitter: @JoeFortenbaugh

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