J.J. McDermott, NFL Columnist at Fantasy Football Maniaxs
Do you know what time it is? It is Sunday morning and the wait is finally over. There is no time like the present; there is no time like football on Sundays. I welcome you all to a brand new season of football with some predictions of my own for this season.
League’s Most Valuable Player: QB - Drew Brees – New Orleans Saints
In 2007, New Orleans averaged 269 yards passing and 361 total yards of total offense a game. In 2008, look for Brees to blow up, have an even more productive year, and bring the Saints back to the playoffs. He has already looked ready to start the season throwing for 386 yards and 4 touchdowns with zero interceptions in limited time this preseason. With a fantastic season schedule in place, look at Brees to dominate in 2008.
Offensive Player of the Year: RB - LaDainian Tomlinson – San Diego Chargers
He is back and healthy from the knee injury that knocked him out of the AFC playoff game last year. Most people will say this is a no brainer pick, but until he turns thirty years old and, or shows any signs of weakness, Tomlinson will continue to be an odds on favorite year in, year out.
Notables- Marion Barber III, Adrian Peterson
Defensive Player of the Year: DE - Julius Peppers – Carolina Panthers
After a disappointing season where he only managed a meager two and a half sacks in 2007, Peppers rebounds and earns himself a Pro Bowl selection as well as a hefty payday in the form of a new contract extension from the Panthers.
Notables- Jared Allen, DeMarcus Ware
Breakout Candidate: WR - Calvin Johnson – Detroit Lions
Everyone seems to be raving about Calvin Johnson and to be honest; I could not agree more. He started off last season with a touchdown pass in each of his first two games. While playing Philadelphia in week three, Johnson injured his back. He played fifteen games in which he still put up 756 yards and 5 total touchdowns (4 receiving, 1 rushing). This year Johnson is 100% healthy and will wreak havoc on opposing defenses.
Notables- Michael Turner, Jerricho Cotchery
Comeback Player of the Year: WR - Marvin Harrison – Indianapolis Colts
The word in Indianapolis is that coaches are saying that Harrison is looking like the Harrison of old. Apparently he is running at full speed without any issues of the knee problems that limited him to only five games last season. He may not be getting any younger but look for Harrison to be the steady target he has always been for Peyton Manning this season.
Notables- Jake Delhomme, Rudi Johnson
Rookie of the Year: RB - Darren McFadden – Oakland Raiders
Justin Fargas is the starting running back in Oakland but with a player as talented as McFadden, don’t expect Fargas to start for long. The Raiders were fourth in the league with 508 rushing attempts to go with their sixth ranked rushing offense in the tune of 2,086 yards last season. Look for McFadden to be heavily involved in the running game, the passing game, and may even get the chance to line up at quarterback in certain situations for the Raiders.
Notables- Jerod Mayo, Matt Ryan
What Sophmore Slump?: RB - Marshawn Lynch – Buffalo Bills
In thirteen games last season, Lynch quietly put up 1,115 yards and 7 touchdowns in thirtieth ranked offense in the league. This past off-season, the Bills drafted wide receiver James Hardy to take the pressure off of star receiver Lee Evans. The drafting of Hardy and another year of maturity for second year quarterback Trent Edwards will give Lynch the opportunity to showcase his talents in a more improved offense this season.
Notables- Adrian Peterson, Patrick Willis
Third Year Standout: QB - Jay Cutler – Denver Broncos
Being diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes and being a professional athlete is not the easiest situation to overcome but Cutler will make the most of his situation. He has the physical tools and weapons in Denver to produce 20 to 30 touchdowns on his way to carve himself in as a top ten quarterback before season’s end.
Notables- Santonio Holmes, Darryl Tapp
Best Off-Season Acquisition: DE - Jared Allen to the Minnesota Vikings
Already the top defense against the run, giving up an average of only 74 yards a game, the Vikings traded for sack master Jared Allen in the off-season. A defense that is already feared by most just got that much fiercer.
Notables- Michael Turner to the Atlanta Falcons, Brett Favre to the New York Jets
Breakout Team: Houston Texans
Last year’s off-season brought them Matt Shaub. Already having players such as Andre Johnson, Owen Daniels, and Kevin Walter on offense then adding Steve Slaton in the draft, their offense has taken even better shape. Throw in the likes of Amobi Okoye, Mario Williams, and DeMeco Ryans on defense and the Texans are a force to be reckoned with in the AFC South.
Notables- Buffalo Bills, Carolina Panthers