Since we’re only a few months away from the start of the NFL season, and the upcoming battle for fantasy football supremacy it’s time to take a look at the upcoming year. For those of you that are busy getting wasted by the pool, chasing strange ass, watching other sports, or involved in a myriad of other activities I’ve created a pre-draft guide to the 2008 Fantasy Football season for you. In it I give you a list of the top 10 players at each position including, potential busts, sleepers, solid investments, and those I believe are set for a breakout year.
What is there to say we don’t already know? The only thing he lost was Donte’ “one route” Stallworth, so it should have little impact on his offensive output.
2. Peyton Manning
6’5, 240lb, rocket-cannon arm; Ya you love it.
Although Romo has played poorly in the playoffs the last two years he has put up huge numbers in the regular season and should continue the trend again for another year.
4. Ben Roethlisberger
His play this season following a dreadful 2006 campaign legitimized Big-Ben as a premier quarterback in the NFL. With a trio of proven weapons in Willie Parker, Hines Ward, and Heath Miller, an emerging Santonio Holmes and the draft-time additions of Rashard Mendenhall and Limas Sweed he’ll have no trouble picking up where he left off. If his o-line can recover from the lose of perennial all-pro Alan Faneca his numbers should sky-rocket.
5. Drew Brees
While he took a step back this season in comparison to his near MVP campaign of 2006, don’t look for that to happen again. If Deuce McAllister can stay healthy and Reggie Bush can live up to his hype, the Saints offense should be as high powered as ever. It will also help if last years’ 1st round pick Robert Meachem can learn plays
6. Carson Palmer
While the Chad Johnson saga should cause Palmer to slip in some fantasy drafts, he’s still a top-tier quarterback. If Johnson does in fact play this season Palmer will be a steal if he falls past the 2nd round.
7. Marc Bulger
Only Peyton Manning has put up better numbers over the last five seasons than Marc Bulger, so when healthy he’s a fantasy giant. Although his Martz-era numbers shouldn’t be expected, Bulger should have a very solid year and will be a quality starter in all leagues.
8. Donovan McNabb
McNabb has become a high-risk pick the last few years due to his recent spat of injuries, but when healthy he’s without a doubt among the best in the league. His talent and ability should put him higher on this list, but in my opinion he lacks the necessary weapons to warrant a high pick. If the Eagles can land a legitimate number one receiver this offense could be extremely effective. Not only would it allow Kevin Curtis to play in the slot (a deadly fast one at that), but more importantly would take pressure off of Westbrook.
9. David Garrard
David Garrard’s numbers might not have jumped off the page last year but his play did. While he only threw 18 touchdowns, his league low three interceptions showed fantasy owners he can be counted on not to lose points. Furthermore his running ability adds another dimension to his fantasy value. I’d expect his numbers to catapult in his second year in the Jaguars offense. Although their receiver play was disappointing last year there’s too much talent between Jerry Porter, Dennis Northcutt, Matt Jones, Reggie Williams, and Mercedes Lewis for someone not to step-up in 2008. If he hadn’t only started one NFL season I would put him ahead of McNabb
10. Matt Hasselbeck
Matt Hasselbeck has been a bang for your buck pick year in and year out. Although you shouldn’t expect him to put up the gaudy passing numbers he’s a consistent and quality pick-up in the middle rounds. His good decision making and firm grasp of the offense help ease fantasy owners fears of inconsistent quarterback play.
Whoever is quarterbacking the Cardinals
I’m always weary of taking a player who’s coming off their first big year followed by a big contract. Add the infamous 2nd year quarterback learning curve to this mix and, you’ve got the ingredients for a bust. While Andersonput up surprising numbers last year on his way to the Pro Bowl, his completion percentage (56%) and 19 interceptions should worry owners. Not to mention his last four games of the season his stats went, 65/121 (53%) 725 yds (181.2 per game) and 5 tds to 6 ints; this against Cincinnati, Buffalo, San Franciso, and New York Jets. Now that there’s a years’ worth of game film on Anderson, I’d expect teams to find a way to take advantage of his poor decision making and inconsistent play. I would pass on drafting Anderson as a starter in fantasy leagues; especially with Brady Quinn in the picture.
While Brett Favre’s shoes and legacy will be impossible to fill, the Packers offense still has enough talent to be formidable. If Aaron Rodgers can make a quick transition to starter he should put up very solid numbers throwing to Greg Jennings and Donald Driver.
If Alex Gibbs can get the running game going and Andre Johnson can stay healthy Schaub should have a productive season. While many would believe Houstonhas a terrible o-line, prior to his injury at the hands of Albert Haynesworth, Schaub was the least sacked and hit QB in the NFL.
Other Notables:Tavaris Jackson, Brady Quinn, Trent Edwards, JaMarcus Russell
With loads of talent around him and a better grasp on Norv Turners’ offense, Phillip Rivers is primed for a big year. He’s got a great offensive line, ugh-hum LT!, and the best tight end in the game today in Antonio Gates. Did I mention a promising receiving corp? On top of all this his high level of play during the playoffs this year should leave you expecting big things in 2008.
1. Ladanian Tomlinson
He’s Jesus in cleats and a fantasy football god.
2. Adrian Peterson
Barring injury Peterson will have a better year this year, and should make a strong push for the rushing title. It’s almost unfair that a running back of his caliber is running behind an offensive line of that quality. Unless LT is on the board or you’re a die-hard Packers fan you shouldn’t pass up on Peterson.
3. Brian Westbrook
Although he rarely plays a full 16 games Brian Westbrook has been consistently putting up huge numbers in Philly as their main offensive threat the past few seasons. His great hands and route-running make Westbrook the 2nd best dual-threat running back in the NFL.
4. Stephen Jackson
Stephen Jackson was a huge bust for many fantasy owners last year, due largely in part to his and the Rams injury problems. If they can patch up their offensive line and keep Bulger on the field, Jackson should have a phenomenal year like he did in 2006.
5. Frank Gore
Frank Gore was also considered a bust in many leagues last year, relative to how high he was taken in most fantasy drafts. Although he still posted good numbers, his lack of touchdowns hurt his owners throughout the year. If the 49ers can find a way to keep defenses from stacking 8 guys in the box Gore should regain his 2006 form.
6. Joseph Addai
Joseph Addai is an emerging star at the running back position, and with opposing defenses having to key on Peyton Manning and Reggie Wayne, Addai’s statistics should benefit immensely. Some people will pass him over for a bigger name, in which case you could get an absolute steal.
7. Larry Johnson
With the Chiefs in rebuilding mode don’t expect Larry Johnson to return to form just yet. You can expect defenses to stack the box and force the questionable Brodie Croyle to beat them. The fact that he’s running behind a shoddy offensive line doesn’t help either.
8. Clinton Portis
Look for Clinton Portis to rebound from a sub-par year (by his standards), and continue to be a quality fantasy back. When healthy he’s a game-changing offensive weapon, and a first rate fantasy starter.
9. Edgerrin James
Edgerrin James has been somewhat forgotten among fantasy football players ever since his departure to the desert. However expect Ken Whisenhunt and Russ Grimm to continue to improve their young offensive line in year two. Not to mention Anquan Boldin and Larry Fitzgerald will keep opposing defenses honest.
10. Marshawn Lynch
Even though he put up stellar rookie numbers, Marshawn Lynch was largely overshadowed by the emergence of Adrian Peterson. Lynch is a hard-nosed runner, with soft hands, and some big-play ability. Barring injury his fantasy output should only increase this year.
A Saints Running Back
Laurence Maroney’s impact and ability were largely forgotten last year due to his injury and the Patriots historically explosive passing attack. With an aging front seven and more porous secondary look for the Patriots to use Maroney a lot more to control clock and keep their defense rested.
While he splits carries with Derrick Ward (which is never a good thing in fantasy) he showed more promise last year with over 1,000 yards and 5.0 avg. While his four touchdowns last year was disappointing his size and goaline running ability should increase those numbers in year two as the Giants starter. Although his fumbling his a concern that can be corrected (see Tiki Barber).
Other Notables: Matt Forte, Jonathan Stewart, Rashard Mendenhall, Steve Slaton, Selvin Young, Jerious Norwood
While Fred Taylor’s re-emergance was a feel good story last year, his dubious injury record and splitting of carries with Maurice Jones-Drew should keep fantasy owners wary of drafting him high
Marion Barber has yet to start a regular season game in the NFL and it remains to be seen whether he can consistently deliver every Sunday as the feature back. His explosive and bone-shattering running style many times works against him as he wears down late in games. The Cowboys also drafted Felix Jones to split carries, reducing Barber’s carries. Don’t shy away from Barber completely, just be cautious of taking him to high; he could also be used as great trade bait and he’ll get a healthy number of TD’s as the goaline back.
Jones-Drew has put up remarkable numbers when you consider he’s the second running back on the depth chart. He runs like a power-back but has the speed to break the big-one. He’s even more valuable in leagues that award points for punt and kick returns. It shouldn’t come as a surprise if he gets more carries than Fred Taylor this year, as the Jaguars might look to rest their aging RB for later in the season.
White had a solid 2007 campaign registering 1100 yds and 7 TD’s all while running on a bum knee. Although they drafted Chris Johnson I believe he’ll be used more as a flanker (like Reggie Bush) because of his receiving skills. Moreover the offense should improve with the addition of Alge Crumpler and probable maturation of Vince Young.
1. Randy Moss
He has a hall-of-fame QB throwing to him and he’s already the best receiver in NFL history not named Jerry Rice.
2. Terrell Owens
Who can make a play? He can.
3. Reggie Wayne
Wayne has become the main target for Peyton Manning, which is a good thing for anyone who owns him.
4. Larry Fitzgerald
While I said earlier that I don’t like taking guys after a big contract, Larry Fitzgerald is an exception, because he earned it through incentives and exceptional play. Don’t worry about Anquan Bolding stealing his passes, he’ll get his fair share. Besides the guy catches everything that’s thrown at him.
5. Andre Johnson
When Andre Johnson was healthy last year he was among the top receivers in the league in every category (averaging over 100 yards a game and a touchdown). If Johnson and Matt Schaub can get it together for 16 games in year two, Johnson’s numbers will explode.
6. Chad Johnson
While Chad Johnson is certainly a top-5 receiver in fantasy, his current off-season situation should raise some questions among fantasy owners wanting to draft him in the first two rounds. Regardless of what “ocho-cinco” thinks his production will suffer if he leaves Cincinnati and Carson Palmer. If he does in fact come back to Cincinnati prior to week one, don’t hesitate on taking him high; he’s a gamer.
7. Braylon Edwards
I think you can expect the same production out of Braylon Edwards again this year, regardless of who the Browns quarterback is.
8. Plaxico Burress
Although Plaxico can be inconsistent at times, his body of work as a whole, speaks for itself. The fact that he’s a touchdown machine and a force in the red zone adds to his value.
9. Torry Holt
Was, Is, and Will continue to be great. He should probably be higher on this list but life isn’t fair. The only thing a fantasy owner should worry about with Torry Holt, is the status of Marc Bulger.
10. Steve Smith
Smith’s season was plagued by a quarterback carousel, but with a healthy Jake Delhomme, expect Smith to return to his past fantasy production.
Even with the turmoil in Atlanta Roddy White managed to gain 1200 receiving yards; good for 8th in the league. You shouldn’t expect Atlanta’s offense to improve drastically this year, but it can’t get worse.
Vincent Jackson has continued to improve each year in San Diego. With the talent around him, Jackson should rarely see double coverage and his 6’5 frame and speed to boast should cause match-up problems with one-on-one coverage.
Other Notables: Limas Sweed, Darrell Jackson, Desean Jackson, Mark Clayton, Ronald Curry, Devin Thomas, Mike Williams, and Danny Amendola (most of who don’t know him but mark my words; he’s the next Wes Welker)
I know Jennings was a big-play threat last year in the Green Bay offense, and Packers fans will get worked up about this but without Favre’s cannon arm and gunslinger mentality expect Jennings production to slip a little. He should be regarded as a low-end 2nd receiver.
Bobby Engram posted the best year of his career last year; at 35. Engram is a smart football player and a long-time vet, but don’t expect him to register back to back 1,000 yard seasons considering that was the first of his 13-year career.
Calvin Johnson has all the talent in the world and with a pro-bowl quality receiver in Roy Williams on the opposite side, he won’t be seeing the double teams he deserves. Before being injured last season he showed promise and I’d expect him to have over 1,000 yards this season; regardless of the quarterback.
Some fantasy owners might be wary of drafting Brandon Marshall due to his self-inflicted injury, but that would be a huge mistake. While last year could be considered his breakout season I expect him to do even better this year. With Rod Smith and Javon Walker now gone, Marshall will become the primary target for Jay Cutler and the Denver offense. Moreover Marshall’s uncanny size and ability after the catch make him a potential fantasy stud; the sky is the limit for Marshall.
1. Antonio Gates
He’s the best Tight End in football and continues to be the primary receiving threat in the San Diego offense.
2. Jason Witten
Witten has made himself into Dallas’ number two target behind T.O. and arguably Romo’s favorite. Don’t expect a significant drop in Wittens’ numbers in 2008.
3. Kellen Winslow
Winslow had a career year in Cleveland and you shouldn’t expect that to change. While his numbers could decrease slightly due to defensive game planning, it shouldn’t be enough to drop his production significantly.
4. Tony Gonzalez
Tony Gonzalez’s quarterback and offensive line situation in Kansas City are ripe for a down year. Nevertheless it’s Tony G and he’ll find a way, which is why his bust will reside in Canton.
5. Chris Cooley
That’s right, I’m giving Chris Cooley love since he’s long overdue. In the last 3 years with the Redskins Cooley has quietly put up great numbers; averaging 64 receptions, 764 yards and 7 touchdowns in that span. If Jason Campbell continues to grow as a quarterback Cooley’s numbers should too.
6. Dallas Clark
He might not be the main target in Indy but he won’t disappoint fantasy owners as a starting tight end. 11 touchdowns last year isn’t to shabby either
As we’ve seen Algernon can thrive in dubious quarterback situations, and considering he’ll be Vince Young’s main target look for him to have a solid year.
7. Alge Crumpler
As we’ve seen Algernon can thrive in dubious quarterback situations, and considering he’ll be Vince Young’s main target look for him to have a solid year.
8. Jeremy Shockey
Although Jeremy Shockey is still a premier tight end, he’s becoming less and less relevant in the Giants offensive system. If the Saints are able to make a trade for him, expect his numbers to increase under Sean Payton; in which case he should be valued in the top 5. If he remains with the Giants his numbers should be better than last year as well.
9. Todd Heap
Don’t worry about last years’ injury slowing down Todd Heap, but rather who will be behind center.
10. Heath Miller
While Heath Miller doesn’t put up a lot of receiving yards he’s always a top-tier red zone threat and will get his fair share of touchdowns.
After failing to appear on the stat sheet in the first 4 games Tony Scheffler came on strong and managed to snag 49 balls for 549 yards and 5 touchdowns. In doing so he cemented himself as Jay Cutler’s go to guy in the red zone and on crucial third and short situations. Moreover he should see more passes thrown his way since Daniel Graham is used primarily for blocking, and Javon Walker and Rod Smiths’ left.
Other Notables: Dustin Keller, Fred Davis, Kevin Boss
While Watson is a very good player and somewhat underrated at his position, the New England offense doesn’t generate big numbers for tight ends. With their continual use of multiple tight end & receiver sets and a plethora of other quality receiving options don’t expect Ben Watson to get many balls thrown his way outside of the red zone.
The guy has to much physical talent not to produce at a high level in the NFL. If San Francisco can find consistent quarterback play or other legitimate receiving threats, teams will be less willing to stack the box, freeing up Davis in the middle of the field.
1. San Diego
Barring injuries the San Diego Chargers defense should be dominant next year. They’ve got a great secondary in the above average Quentin Jammer and Antonio Cromartie is quickly solidifying himself as a top cover corner in the league; not to mention his ability to turn a interception into six points will help neutralize. The behemoth defensive front of Jamal Williams, Luis Castillo and Igor Olshanksy continues to give Shawn Merriman and Shaun Phillips the freedom to terrorize quarterbacks weekly. Look for Ben Siler and Eric Weddle to make bigger impacts on the defense this year as well.
If he gets reinstated the addition of Pacman Jones opposite of Terrance Newman will give Roy Williams the chance to do what he does best; roam the field and light people up. Zach Thomas will help bolster their run defense and DeMarcus Ware is only getting better. If Bobby Carpenter and Tank Johnson can play at a high level Wade Phillips defense will be among the best in the league.
This unit improved markedly last year as the Vikings were among the league leaders in points allowed, turnovers, and defensive touchdowns. They’ve got a very good secondary, athletic linebackers, and the addition of Jared Allen to a defensive line that boasts Kevin and Pat Williams will be a nightmare for opposing coaches. Furthermore their offense boasts arguably the most potent rushing attack in the league, giving them the ability to manage the clock, which should keep their defense well rested into the 4th quarter. The Vikings defense will also benefit immensely from the turnover prone and inexperienced quarterbacks in their division; Jon Kitna, Aaron Rodgers, and Rex Grossman.
Tony Dungy has once again put together the premier cover-2 defense in the NFL. They’ve got a solid secondary and the defensive player of the year in Bob Sanders. With a healthy Dwight Freeney and Robert Mathis, Indy should be able to apply consistent pressure with four down lineman, which is crucial to effectively run a cover-2 scheme. Moreover Peyton Manning’s ability to smoothly run their offense and score often forces the other team to alter their offensive gameplan, significantly benefiting the Colts defensive unit as well.
While Chicago’s defense is as good as ever their offensive woes should make you think twice. With their offenses’ penchant for turnovers and inability to consistently stay on the field, the Bears defense is forced to shoulder much of the load. If Brian Urlacher, Tommie Harris, and Mike Brown can stay healthy they should be one of the top three defenses in the league. Also having Devin Hester doesn’t hurt either.
Despite a surprisingly lackluster running attack last season Seattle’s defense was able to carry them into the playoffs again. Their defense has great players in Patrick Kerney, Marcus Trufant, Julian Peterson, and bona-fide superstar in Lofa Tatupu. The Seahawks defense should be just as good as last year, if not better.
Meet Albert Haynesworth. He’s 26 and when he’s angry he’s an un-blockable beast of a man who makes everyone around him better (he should have been defensive player of the year but stomping on peoples heads stays fresh in many voters minds). Carlos Finnegan and Michael Griffin were surprisingly effective last year and should ease Titans fans concerns of losing Pac-Man Jones. Expect Jeff Fisher to have this defense playing at a highly physical level again this year.
8. Green Bay
Green Bays defense shouldn’t suffer much from the loss of Corey Williams if their 1stround pick Justin Harrell can make an impact. Their physical secondary and young intimidating linebackers should continue to keep their defense playing at a high level again. Meanwhile Aaron Kampman continues to be one of the most underrated defensive ends in the NFL. It’s also not easy for opposing teams to win games in Lambeau.
9. Tampa Bay
As long as Derrick Brooks and Monte Kiffen are in Tampa Bay don’t expect this defense to fall off. Gaines Adams and Barrett Rudd continue to show promise and their secondary is a solid unit. The only thing to beware of is that the champion of the NFC South the last 4 years have all taken a nose-dive the year after.
Under Jack Del Rio Jacksonville’s defense has been big, mean, fast, and physical; don’t expect that to change. Losing Marcus Stroud certainly does not help but having John Henderson should lighten the impact. If one of their de’s drafted can become an effective pass rusher at the defensive end position this defense could be scary. If this Jaguars team didn’t play in the immensely tough AFC South I’d put them higher
New York Giants
The Raiders defensive play of the last two years has been tainted by their dreadful offense. Yet look for that to improve with a more solid ground attack under Fargas and McFadden, the addition of Javon Walker, and the play of JaMarcus Russell. More importantly their off-season acquisitions of Gibril Wilson and DeAngelo Hall along side Michael Huff, Nnamdi Asomuhga, give the Raiders the best secondary in the league. Add that to an exceptional linebacking corp., a good edge rusher in Derrick Burgess, and you can expect the Raiders to return to their defensive days of old.
Mark my words: If Clevelandcan find a way to get Shaun Rogers to play 100% the entire season, the trade with Detroitwill go down in lopsided infamy. Moreover Romeo Crennel has acquired the linebackers necessary for a formidable 3-4 defense in Andra Davis, Kamerion Wimbley, Willie Mcginest, and D’Qwell Jackson. The addition of Corey Williams alongside Robaire Smith and Shaun Rogers should give them the freedom to wreak havoc. Although they’ve got serviceable safeties in Brodney Pool and Sean Jones, I see a glaring weakness at the starting cornerback positions. However this can be offset but an effective front seven; as Romeo Crennel did in New England during the 2004 season.
Other Notables: Buffalo, New York Jets, Cardinals
I believe the Redskins defense is still reeling from the loss of Sean Taylor; who was without a doubt the best player on their team. While they have very solid corners and an emerging star in Laron Landry, their linebackers are getting old, and their front four is unable to generate the type of pressure to make their secondary as effective as it could be. Playing in the NFC East doesn’t help either.
Under John Fox the Carolina Panthers have been known for their athletically gifted and at-times dominating defense. However this year they won’t be able to make up for key losses to their unit. The loss of Kris Jenkins and Mike Rucker will leave opposing offenses free to double and triple team Julius Peppers. While Jon Beason can replace the loss of Dan Morgan, he and Thomas Davis will be busy fighting off blockers that Jenkins used to eat up. They’re also very thin at the safety position.
With the youngest defense in the league Houstonwas able to make big strides last year, carrying the team to an 8-8 record despite injuries to Matt Schaub, Andre Johnson, and Dunta Robinson. They have the cornerstones of a great defense in Mario Williams, Demeco Ryans, and Amobi Okoye. Fred Bennett is also emerging into a legitimate #1 corner. If they can get Dunta Robinson back to his pre-injury performance and continue to gel, their defense should pose a big problem for offensive coordinators. Also given the fact that their defense could go un-drafted in many leagues, it could be a high-value free agent or late-round pick-up.
- Rob Bironas
- Mason Crosby
- Josh Brown
- Nick Folk
- Adam Vinatieri
- Kris Brown
- Robbie Gould
- Phil Dawson
- Jason Elam
- Stephen Gostkowski