September is finally upon us. The weather is getting cooler, tailgaters are getting their propane tanks filled and the 2009 football season is set to kick off.
With fantasy football drafts in full swing, let’s take a look at which players are climbing the boards and which ones are dropping heading into Week 1.
And for those of you who haven’t purchased the NFP Total Access Pass yet, it’s time to make a move. This is going to be your one-stop shop for fantasy domination. Injury reports, start ‘em/sit’em analyses, projections, trade talk, the “trash talk lounge” and live chats (specifically on Sunday mornings) are all part of the package.
Let’s break this down position by position…
NOTE: All ADP (average draft position) numbers are based on a 10-team league.
Climbing the boards
1. Jay Cutler Chicago Bears
After a shaky first preseason game, Cutler has been coming on very strong. He’s completed 23 of 34 passes for 265 yards, two touchdowns and no interceptions over his past two games (Giants, Broncos) while leading the Bears to two victories. Very impressive for a guy with an 84.3 ADP who is being selected in the ninth round. Great value.
2. Joe Flacco Baltimore Ravens
Owners are advised to start seriously considering Flacco as a QB2 with upside. The second-year quarterback out of Delaware has looked very polished and poised this preseason, completing 40 of 61 passes for 470 yards, one touchdown and no interceptions. He’s being targeted in the 14th round with an ADP of 130.9. This kid has some nice upside as the Ravens are going to open up their offense more in 2009.
1. Matt Cassel Kansas City Chiefs
His numbers have been decent (11/19, 114 yards, 1 TD, 0 INTs) but the Chiefs have struggled to move the ball (only 33 points in three games), and now word out of K.C. is that Cassel could miss the first game of the year due to an MCL sprain he suffered this past weekend against the Seahawks. We weren’t very high on Cassel coming into this season and think the Chiefs are still a couple of years and a couple of playmakers away from being a quality offense.
Keep an eye on…
1. Matt Hasselbeck Seattle Seahawks
Very quietly, the Seattle signal-caller has been putting together a sharp and efficient preseason. Hasselbeck has completed 38 of 53 passes (71.7 percent) for 414 yards, four touchdowns and just one interception. Owners have been targeting him in the 11th round this summer, and if Hass can stay healthy, you could see him go from a QB2 to a reliable starter.
Climbing the boards
1. Glen Coffee San Francisco 49ers
The rookie out of Alabama has been taking advantage of his playing time in the preseason. Coffee has picked up 230 rushing yards on 38 carries (6.1 YPC), has an ADP of 126.3 and is being targeted in the 13th round. He may not produce much in 2009, but he is a MUST HAVE handcuff for all Frank Gore owners.
2. James Davis Cleveland Browns
We told you guys months ago that Jamal Lewis was a bad fantasy option and that he wouldn’t carry the workload in Cleveland this season. While we originally projected that running back Jerome Harrison would be the man to steal the touches, he’s been stuck riding the stationary bike this preseason while he battles injuries. Enter rookie James Davis. The former Clemson Tiger has carried the ball 19 times for 149 yards (7.8 YPC) and one touchdown and has looked very fast and explosive in the process. Four games against the Steelers and Ravens in addition to a bad team around him will limit his potential, but Davis is a nice super-sleeper option to target at the end of the draft. Owners in keeper leagues should pay close attention.
1. Pierre Thomas New Orleans Saints
Thomas isn’t slipping because of his skill set as much as because of the emergence of backup Mike Bell. Bell has carried 15 times in two games for 115 yards and one touchdown. The key to remember here is that Bell is not fantasy viable. He will likely be used as a role/situational player who puts up very modest numbers. However, this will cut into Thomas’ workload, which he is already sharing with pass-catching back Reggie Bush. Don’t panic yet, but be cautious about the price you’re willing to pay for one of 2009’s most popular picks. I wouldn’t look for him before the third.
Don’t forget about…
Detroit Lions running back Kevin Smith (ADP: 36.7) and Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice (ADP: 44.4). In our opinion, both guys are getting drafted later than they should (especially Smith), making them excellent value picks.
Climbing the boards
1. Eddie Royal Denver Broncos
I’ve been watching a lot of the Broncos this preseason, and one thing that has been very obvious is that the offense is running through Royal. With malcontent Brandon Marshall suspended for the remainder of the preseason, Royal has been quarterback Kyle Orton’s go-to guy, catching 13 passes for 134 yards this preseason. Hey, Denver may struggle in 2009, but the Broncos are going to throw the ball. Look for Royal to have another solid year.
2. Derrick Mason Baltimore Ravens
I’m not sure if it’s because owners aren’t sold on Joe Flacco or if they think Mason is still retired, but one thing is for sure: The Ravens No. 1 wideout is being drafted way too late. Mason is being selected in the 10th round with an ADP of 96.9. Why? The guy has caught 80-plus passes for 1,000-plus yards in five of his last six seasons. With Flacco on the rise, Mason is an excellent value pick you should grab to add depth to your lineup.
1. Michael Crabtree San Francisco 49ers
Some of you are probably tired of hearing me talk about Crabtree, but I will continue to drive home the point until I stop seeing guys select him in the middle rounds. STAY AWAY from Crabtree. What is there to like about this guy? He has yet to sign, practice or catch a preseason pass. And remember, that legendary touchdown pass he caught against Texas last year means squat right now. Keep this guy off your draft board.
2. The Buffalo Bills
Quarterback Trent Edwards has not looked very impressive this preseason, completing 23 of 34 passes for just 155 yards with zero touchdowns and two interceptions. He’s also been sacked five times behind a suspect offensive line that is starting two rookies (Wood, Levitre) and lost Pro Bowl left tackle Jason Peters. Terrell Owens and Lee Evans are ballers, but if Edwards can’t get them the football, it’s going to be a long season for the Bills.
A rookie to believe in…
1. Kenny Britt Tennessee Titans
Luck is what happens when opportunity meets persistence. And Britt is going to get “lucky” this season. With starting wideout Nate Washington nursing a hamstring injury that could sideline him for the Titans opener, a window has been opened for the rookie out of Rutgers to crash through. Word out of Tennessee is that Britt has been looking terrific this preseason and the coaching staff is really happy with his progress. Either grab him at the end of your draft or let him fall to waivers and monitor his progress early in the season.
Keep a close watch on these two…
1. Jermichael Finley Green Bay Packers
Finley is making his move for the starting job in Green Bay and has been looking very impressive this preseason by catching nine passes for 92 yards and two touchdowns. This kid has good speed, reliable hands and the ability to make plays when he finds space. Don’t target him as a TE1 just yet, but he has the potential to become one of this year’s breakout players if he keeps up his current pace.
2. Jared Cook Tennessee Titans
The rookie out of South Carolina (and one of Wes Bunting’s favorite players from the 2009 draft) has been making some plays this preseason. Cook has already caught 14 passes for 129 yards as he tries to beat out Bo Scaife and Alge Crumpler to claim the job he’s being groomed to one day take. With a rare blend of size and speed for the tight end position, Cook may not be an impact player in 2009, but he’s going to be a baller in the coming years.
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