Fantasy football season is right around the corner. Drafts are coming up, and it's time to get ready for fantasy football.
Due to the lockout, fantasy football was put on hold throughout the summer. Now that the issues with the CBA have been resolved, players are changing teams left and right. By now we have a more clear picture as far as where everyone stands in the upcoming season. There are still moves to be made, but it's time for fantasy players to start getting more serious about their pre-draft preparation.
Of course, I'm not done with my pre-draft prep either, but this is my first version. I will likely be posting newer versions as we near the end of August, when most drafts actually occur. Feel free to comment, and let me know what you think. I'm always open to constructive criticism.
It's also important to know that any time I reference where a certain player might fit on a team it's based on a 10-team league.
The Law Firm was a consistent fantasy player last season. I would know—I owned him. After Week 2, BGE was solid. He almost always either gave owners big yards or touchdowns. Sometimes both.
While I'm worried about New England's crowded backfield, I still think The Law Firm will get his touches. In late-game situations when the Pats need to move the chains and run out the clock, BGE will be there to take care of it.
Green-Ellis is a low-level No. 2 back, or a solid flex option.
This may seem high for Jermichael Finley, but I believe he has huge potential this season. Finley only played in four games last season, but when he played, he was effective.
Everything I've read about Finley so far is positive, and in that offense, I think he could be really dangerous. If Donald Driver isn't on the roster this season like some have speculated, Finley could step into a huge role in that offense.
On a team with a limited running game, a 6'5" Finley could become a favorite red-zone option of the Packers this season.
Factoring in Antonio Gates' injury history, I wouldn't be surprised if Finley was this year's top tight end in a pass-heavy offense.
This might be a bigger reach than Finley, but I'm really high on Shonn Greene this year, and here's why: LaDainian Tomlinson was very good last season, but he's getting old. LT is obviously still going to be a factor, but if LT gets hurt or he just isn't as good, Greene could take over a huge workload on a run-first team.
Greene is high-risk, high-reward, but I think he's worth a late fifth-round pick. The thing about Greene is that he'll get better as the season goes along. He's known as an extremely durable player and on the flip side, LT is not. As the season goes on, LT will wear down more and more, and by the time the fantasy playoffs roll around, I believe Greene will be highly productive.
Jahvid Best is a risky pick. Last season, he had some really good weeks and some really bad ones. The Lions drafted Mikel Leshoure who figures to carry some of the load, but Best is an electrifying player that could be extremely effective in both the running game and the passing game.
If Matthew Stafford can stay healthy and get the offense moving, Best could be a big part of it. I'm not sure he can be a feature back, but I expect him to improve significantly on a per-possession basis this season.
Tony Romo is pretty self explanatory. You know what you're going to get. If he stays healthy that offense is going to be good, but he's going to be in a few too many 3rd-and-9 situations. I'm worried about the running game in Dallas, but if Romo stays upright he should be good either way.
With Dez Bryant, Miles Austin, Jason Witten and Felix Jones going out for passes, how could you be bad?
Williams is usually being ranked higher than this, but there are quite a few reasons not to like him this year. First, he shares carries with Jonathan Stewart. Stewart is another excellent running back, and he will eat up a good share of Williams' carries.
Secondly, Williams can't stay healthy. He's nearing the end and I have a hard time imagining him playing in more than 13 games. If nothing else, he'll have nagging injuries that keep him from performing at a high level.
Third, he plays on a really bad team. His quarterback, whether it's Newton or Clausen, isn't going to be able to extend possessions long enough. There are going to be plenty of three-and-outs. He also doesn't get the benefit of running the clock out in games they're ahead in, because they won't actually be ahead in any games. The Panthers are going to be doing a lot of throwing in fourth quarters.
If these reasons aren't enough, he just signed a huge deal. After all this, I have a really hard time seeing DeAngelo Williams having a great season. He's talented, but it's too big of a risk. I won't be taking him in any leagues this season.
In my opinion, Dallas Clark is just a safe bet. He did get hurt last season, but I believe he'll be ready to go this time around. Playing with one of the best quarterbacks in the game will definitely keep his stock up.
I put him in front of Jermichael Finley because of his consistency. I don't think he has the potential Finley does, but he's a better bet to produce regularly. Especially considering how many weapons that offense has.
Brandon Lloyd had a breakout season last year, but with a questionable attitude and the uncertainty at quarterback, Lloyd drops to 43 this season. Some have him even lower.
At this point it sounds like Kyle Orton will be the starter in Denver which bodes well for Lloyd. I have a hard time seeing him repeating his performance from last season, but I think he's a respectable No. 2 receiver this season.
Jeremy Maclin is an extremely talented wide receiver who plays on one of the best offensive teams in the league, if not the best. There are plenty of touches to go around, and barring injury, I see Maclin as an extremely safe pick. He'll have some down weeks when Vick is hurt, but at least you know in advance which weeks he may struggle in.
Maclin probably isn't going to win your league for you, but he probably won't lose it for you either. If you get Maclin as your No. 2 receiver you're doing pretty well.
I'm not really sure what to think about Mike Williams. He was very good last year, but touchdowns are less reliable than yards. A guy that scores 11 touchdowns in his rookie year might be a risky pick in the fifth round. Either way he's Freeman's main target so he can't be that bad.
Tampa Bay has quite a few good young players on the roster. It will be interesting to see how their offense works this year.
Holmes didn't play in the first four games of last season, but after he returned he was effective. With Braylon Edwards gone he is clearly the No. 1 option on that team. Plaxico Burress may provide some relief as a No. 2 receiver, but at this point, I don't even know what to expect from him.
The ball will be going to Holmes a lot, and he's very explosive. I think he has a considerable amount of upside this season. He has been good in the past, but I wouldn't be surprised if he steps up and has a career year this season.
Last season, LeGarrette Blount essentially had 1,000 yards and five touchdowns in 11 games. He played in 13 games, but in his two appearances before Week 7 he had a combined 10 carries.
One-thousand yards in 11 games is extremely impressive, but questions remain about Blount. First of all, he might be crazy. If he turns out to be a head case and gets in trouble, it could ruin his entire season.
Another issue is that we don't know how he's going to bounce back after his first NFL season. He basically got a year to work out and do mostly non-impact drills when he was suspended so he was rested. It will be interesting to see how his body reacts to another full season of work.
I like Blount, but don't take him as your first running back. He could be great, but I'm not completely convinced he's great just yet.
I like Marques Colston because he's a safe bet to have a good season. He'll more than likely hover right around 1,000 yards and eight touchdowns. Drew Brees likes to spread the ball around, but Colston always gets his.
Although he may not have huge upside, I would feel very comfortable with Colston as my No. 2 receiver, or even my No. 1 if I picked two elite running backs and a QB. All in all, picking Colston in the fourth round is solid.
It's no secret that Antonio Gates is the best tight end in the game. The only question is whether or not he can stay healthy. Gates missed six games last season and has struggled with injuries his entire career. If I knew Gates was going to be healthy for the majority of the season, I would put him higher, but for now I believe spending a late fourth-rounder on him is adequate.
With Vincent Jackson back in town and the running game hopefully improving, Gates may not get as many targets as he did last season, but I still expect him to put up huge numbers.
It's looking more and more like Kyle Orton will be the starter in Denver. Not only is that good for Brandon Lloyd, but Moreno will benefit as well. There's no doubt Tebow would cut into Moreno's touchdowns if he started, so from a fantasy perspective, Moreno looks much better with Orton.
Moreno was plagued with injuries last season, but this season I expect him to be healthier. It's no secret John Fox likes to run the football, so hopefully Moreno will receive more carries. I'm not too worried about Fox trying to recreate the running back mess he just left by giving the ball to Correll Buckhalter.
I expect Moreno to get more touches, and do more with those touches since he will hopefully be healthy. Add in the extra touchdown's and I think Moreno could have a nice year.
What? Peyton Manning at No. 35?
I know what you're thinking, and yes, I know Peyton Manning at No. 35 seems crazy—but to be honest, I'm not high on quarterbacks this year. In my opinion, Manning is the No. 6 quarterback.
Drafting the No. 6 quarterback in the third round isn't going to win you your league. It's not that I really hate Manning; it's just that I like the receivers and running backs ahead of him more.
The fact that Manning is coming off major surgery is another factor. He's 35 years old, and his durability isn't what it used to be. Manning is still a high-quality fantasy player, but I wouldn't take him until the late third, or early fourth round.
Dwayne Bowe proved himself last season as a legitimate No. 1 fantasy receiver in the second half of the season. He was inconsistent the first few weeks, but once he got going, there was no stopping him.
Bowe had quite a few big weeks last season, but I'm not confident he'll improve on his consistency this season. The passing game in Kansas City is still limited, and I wouldn't feel comfortable with Bowe as my No. 1 receiver. He's a solid second option, but you have to be ready for some dud weeks.
Dez Bryant has all the potential in the world. He is an elite athlete who can do anything on the field. There are two reasons why I left Dez Bryant out of my top 30.
First, the injuries. Not only to him, but also his quarterback. If Bryant misses a few games, and Romo gets hurt as well, his season could really become a mess. Second, Miles Austin is going to cut into his production. Bryant will likely be covered by the No. 1 corner because of his physical skills, and he'll be sharing targets. That could be a really bad situation for Bryant.
Dez Bryant has an unlimited ceiling, and he's here because of his potential to be great, but you have to realize taking him is a calculated risk.
Most analysts have Hillis rated higher than this, but I feel that there are just too many red flags. He is an extremely powerful runner, and he was effective back last season, but I don't see him repeating his performance.
Hillis has been extremely injury-prone his entire career, and being the focal point of the offense doesn't help. He takes way too many hits and he's bound to be injured at some point. If you decide to draft Hillis, don't expect more than 13 games from him and be ready to deal with him being questionable every game.
With virtually no passing game, and considering the fact Cleveland is going to have to throw at the end of most games, I don't like Hillis to repeat his performance. He's still worth a late third- or early fourth-round pick, but I don't think his baggage is worth taking on with one of your first two picks. Maybe even first three if you're picking in the top half of the third round.
Phillip Rivers has been on the fence between the elite QBs and the next tier. I believe this year Rivers breaks through and joins the elite for good. As you can see, I have him ranked above Peyton Manning.
I'm concerned with Manning's health as well as the lack of support he gets from his running game. I believe Tolbert and Matthews will be much more productive this season.
With Vincent Jackson back and Antonio Gates healthy in a pass-first offense, I like Rivers' chances to outperform Manning. Although I believe Rivers is going to have a great year, I believe he is a borderline third-round pick. If he's available in the fourth round, he provides good value.
While Vincent Jackson didn't play much last season, he's still a dominant force on the field. He has the benefit of playing in a pass-heavy offense as the clear No. 1 receiver. Antonio Gates is obviously there, but Jackson will get his targets either way.
Jackson doesn't have much competition for his spot and he should return to where he was before he sat out last season. Jackson has really high upside this season.
I swear the ranking of three Chargers was unintentional. Most people would probably rank Matthews last among the three Chargers, but I believe he will bounce back.
Matthews was a disappointment to say the least last season. He was drafted in the top 15 in most drafts, but he battled injuries most of the season and didn't live up to expectations.
I expect this season to be much different. Many running backs struggle to adjust to the NFL during their rookie years and have their coming-out party in their sophomore season. I believe Matthews will be in that category.
Matthews has all the physical tools to be a successful running back in the NFL, and with a year of experience under his belt I believe he can put it all together. He is playing in a great situation that should provide him with the opportunities he needs to succeed.
I think I already talked about this situation in the Dez Bryant section, but I believe Austin will be matched up with No. 2 corners and he will be the favorite target of Romo. Austin is also more durable.
I think Austin is a safe pick this season if there is such a thing. He probably doesn't have the upside of some of these other guys, but he's a better bet to perform his rank.
Reggie Wayne is the No. 1 wide receiver on a pass-first team led by one of the best quarterbacks in the game. The reason I'm a little concerned about Wayne this year is his age. He's now 32 years old, and I'm not sure how much longer he's going to last.
How well he performs this year just depends on how his body is going to hold up. If he starts to suffer from nagging injuries or losses a little bit off his first step, he could drop significantly in the rankings.
I believe Wayne has at least one, or maybe two more elite years left in him. I guess we'll find out come September.
DeSean Jackson is one of the most explosive players in the game, if not the most. His unbelievable speed sets him apart from most wide receivers.
Playing in an offense with Michael Vick really opens things up for Jackson. Vick's arm strength allows him to run deep routes down the field and come up with big plays quite often.
I'm convinced that Jackson's physical skills set him apart from the majority of NFL players, and I believe he will have a huge year because of it.
The thing I'm worried about most is actually Vick's injury history. If Vick goes down, Jackson isn't going to be nearly as valuable. If Vick plays in most games though, Jackson has a chance to have a special year.
Matt Forte is a guy that's valuable not only for his ability to run the ball, but also his receiving skills. He's played in every game of his three-year career, and is a solid bet to repeat his numbers from last season. The Bears offensive line is still below average, but he figures to get his numbers either way.
I'm a little bit worried about Marion Barber taking some of his touchdowns, but he didn't run for that many in the first place—I don't think it'll be a big problem.
Forte is such a big part of that offense that he is a good bet to put up numbers. When Cutler needs an out, Forte is usually there.
Ahmad Bradshaw enjoyed a breakout season of sorts last year, he finally broke through and had a monster year. This season, it seems as if fantasy analysts are questioning his ability to repeat. Most people have him pegged as an early-to-mid fourth-rounder, but I believe he's much better than that.
Brandon Jacobs is nearing the end, and while he didn't do all that much last year, I expect his production to decrease this year. At 25, Bradshaw is just reaching his prime. Bradshaw hasn't been a workhorse in the past, and doesn't have that many miles on him.
His feet have been questionable, and he played through injury a little bit last year, but I believe he can stay healthy. If he plays in all 16, I'd be very surprised if he didn't finish as a top-15 running back.
Tom Brady is one of the most consistent fantasy players in the game. Year after year, he puts up huge numbers; I suspect this year will be no different. Throughout his career, Brady has continued to put up huge numbers without the benefit of having star players in most cases.
I have Brady at the No. 4 fantasy quarterback this season. It's hard to tell if the emergence of BenJarvis Green-Ellis will open things up or detract from his attempts and hog touchdowns. I expect Brady to have another huge year regardless.
I probably won't be taking Brady this year because QB No. 4 probably isn't worth an early third-rounder, but I think that's probably how valuable he is if you want an elite quarterback.
Darren McFadden had a breakout season last year to say the least. He had over 1,600 total yards and scored 10 touchdowns. Those are solid stats; the thing about them is he did it in only 13 games last season.
McFadden has always had trouble staying healthy, but when he played last season, he dominated. If you're going to pick him you have to be prepared to see that dreaded Q next to his name at least a few times if not more, but when he plays he has the potential to dominate the game, even in a poor offense.
As long as McFadden can stay moderately healthy, he should have another big year. At only 23 years old, he still has young legs and probably hasn't reached his potential as a runner.
In his second NFL season, Wallace improved substantially as an overall receiver. In his rookie year he pretty much just went deep; now, the Steelers are finding new ways to try to get him the ball in addition to him running deep routes.
With Hines Ward getting older with the passing of each season, Wallace figures to see his targets increasing. He also has the benefit of playing with Ben Roethlisberger as his quarterback. Big Ben may not be the best quarterback around, but he has one of the strongest arms. There are only a few guys who can throw the deep ball like him.
Even with safeties helping over the top consistently this season, I fully expect Wallace to have a huge year. The Steelers still have other weapons and a great running game to open things up. I have no problem drafting Wallace in the early third round, or maybe even the second round depending on who is still on the board.
If I'm drafting 20th and Gore is still on the board, I'm not going to take him. I hate Frank Gore this year. I know most other sites have him ranked at the beginning of the second round, but I really don't think Gore is going to have a year worthy of a second-round pick.
Gore plays in a terrible offense. Alex Smith was a bust, and they just don't have anyone better. Now they have Braylon Edwards, but he doesn't have great hands and he's not good enough to make a difference playing with a bad quarterback. Michael Crabtree isn't a difference-maker yet, and I'm not sure how much he's going to be able to play anyway. Vernon Davis is good, but a lot of times he vultures touchdowns in the red zone which actually hurts Gore's value.
Gore has played in 16 games only once in his six NFL seasons. He is extremely injury-prone and even if he does play, he's always struggling with injury history. Gore isn't a young buck anymore; he's 28 years old. He's nearing the end of his prime if he isn't there already.
Frank Gore is a good runner. He's a solid back who has the potential to have a good year. In my mind though, there's just too much risk involved in taking him where he's normally being drafted.
I have Drew Brees ranked ahead of Tom Brady, but not by much. I wouldn't be surprised if Brady finished ahead of Brees, but I like Brees because I don't trust the Saints' ground game—not that I trust New England's all that much, but the Law Firm can get it into the end zone.
Mark Ingram is a talented player, but predicting how a rookie will fare is nearly impossible and I'm not any more confident in any of his backups. If anything, Darren Sproles replaces what he lost in Reggie Bush. The Saints are going to throw a lot of passes this year, and Brees has many different weapons at his disposal.
There's no doubting Calvin Johnson's talent. At 6'5" he can win any jump ball, and make some of the most spectacular catches week after week. The only problem is, his quarterback can't stay healthy.
If Matthew Stafford could play all 16 games, Megatron would be a fantasy monster. Not that he isn't right now, but his numbers would surely see a boost if Stafford was on the field all the time. Even playing with below average QB's for most of his career, Johnson has emerged as a top talent and dominant force on the filed.
Right now, Johnson is the first option in that passing game by far. He's going to be lining up against double- and even triple-teams every single week, but I'm still not worried about his catches. With Jahvid Best hopefully emerging as one of the league's most electrifying backs, and Leshoure coming in and providing some support in the run game, Johnson should have more around him this year.
If the Lions offense can put it all together offensively this year, I can easily see Johnson improving on his performance last season, and that's scary.
Arizona shuffled through quarterbacks pretty routinely last season. Larry Fitzgerald played with poor field generals the entire year as the Cardinals finished second-to-last in passing yards. This year will more than likely be different.
The Cardinals don't have one of the best quarterbacks in the league, but Kevin Kolb is surely a significant improvement to what they put on the field last year. With the departure of Steve Breaston, there isn't anyone else for Kolb to throw to. Fitzgerald will likely be triple-covered at all times, but it won't be worse than last year. He'll probably see similar targets; it's just that more of those balls will be catchable.
Even though I believe Ryan Williams is probably going to do better than Tim Hightower did last season, they still don't have a reliable ground game. For that reason, I think they will try to go to Fitzgerald in the red zone more than they did last year. Fitzgerald's value plunged last season because of the touchdowns.
While I don't think Fitzgerald's numbers will look like they did in 2008, I think they will be relatively close. With an average quarterback on the roster, I have to boost Fitzgerald, who is arguably the NFL's best receiver. I know most people have him going around the mid-third round, but I think Fitzgerald is too talented to leave out of the top 20 with Kolb on board.
I don't think Greg Jennings is as talented as either of the two wide receivers before him, but unlike those players, Jennings plays with one of the best passers in the game. Unlike other teams with elite QBs like the Saints or Patriots, the Packers have a legitimate No. 1 target on offense.
Jermichael Finley is an emerging star, but other than that, the Packers running game is weak, Driver is getting old quickly, and Jordy Nelson and James Jones aren't ready to start cutting into Jennings' value quite yet.
Greg Jennings fell into the perfect situation in Green Bay, and his fantasy value reflects that.
Steven Jackson is one of the best rushers in the game when healthy; the question is whether or not he can actually play a full season. Jackson has always struggled with nagging injuries, but after playing in all 16 games last season, he may finally be ready to step up and be a pretty reliable fantasy back.
I like to think of Jackson as a superior version of Matt Forte. Forte may be a better pass-catcher, but Jackson is a better combo back. He's a power runner that will score his share of touchdowns while doubling as the team's workhorse. He's also an excellent pass-catcher so he stays in the game on 3rd downs. He's good in every aspect of the game and that improves his fantasy value.
With the emergence of Sam Bradford as a solid starting quarterback, the Rams offense will be more productive and produce more points, making Jackson a more attractive option. Overall some people may think No. 15 may be high for Jackson, but I believe he's a great option as a borderline No. 1 running back.
If Jackson is available at the end of the second round, I think an Arian Foster-Steven Jackson combo could certainly win fantasy leagues. Don't hesitate to take him in the mid-to-late second round if he's available.
Hakeem Nicks had a solid year last season. He topped 1,000 yards and recorded 11 touchdowns. Those numbers would definitely get you a spot in a starting lineup in a 10-man league. Those numbers were similar to Stevie Johnson who had a monster season. Nicks finished 13th in yards and tied for fourth in touchdowns. The thing is, he only played in 13 games.
Nicks missed three games toward the end of the season and still managed to put up possible No. 1 receiver type stats. Eli Manning is a solid quarterback, and he always looks for Nicks. The Giants also have Mario Manningham and Steve Smith as well as a better than average running game, so they have a solid offense around him.
I suspect Nicks will be healthy this season, and I think his production will be similar to what he did last year while he was on the field. It was hard to put Nicks in front of guys like Megatron, Fitzgerald and Jennings, but I really like him this year.
Rashard Mendenhall isn't all that flashy. He probably isn't going to win you your league, but he's going to get a lot of touches, and he's going to score a lot of touchdowns. The Steelers offense is run-heavy, and Mendenhall is going to get all those carries. He's only 24, so he's still young and he's played in all 16 games two years in a row now.
Mendenhall is a one-dimensional back in a sense that he isn't a great pass-catcher which limits his value, but he's still a great rusher on a great team. He's going to have the benefit of pounding it through that line to clinch every victory, making him even better.
I realize that this is way too low for MJD by most standards, but hear me out.
MJD plays for the Jaguars. This is a team with very limited amount of offensive weapons that relies almost completely on the 5'7" running back to move the offense. They have no other real threats and everyone is going to be scheming against him.
If the Jags are looking bad in the first half of the season they might end up starting rookie Blaine Gabbert, which would likely makes matters worse for the Jags offensively. If he starts, the entire offense is going to struggle, including Jones-Drew.
MJD has taken a beating over the past few years as one of the premier featured backs in the game. He struggled with injuries last season, and I wouldn't be surprised if he struggled even more this season. I'm not only concerned about his overall play, I'm also worried about how much his body is going to be able to handle. I'm definitely not a Maurice Jones-Drew advocate this year.
To me, Michael Turner is basically just a better version of Rashard Mendenhall. He's not that much better, but he is a little bit of an upgrade.
Many argue that Turner is getting old. This is important considering the short shelf life of most NFL running backs. Although Michael Turner is now 29, I believe he's a "young 29" because of the fact that he sat behind LT all those years in San Diego.
In the first four years of Turner's career combined, he missed just five games, but only got 228 carries—significantly less than the amount of carries that he got in Atlanta that first year. While Turner is 29, he doesn't have nearly as much mileage on his legs as most 29-year-old starters do.
Turner is a pretty reliable running back who played in all 16 games last season although he did hurt his leg in the early part of the season. A lot of people are shying away from Turner this year, but I have no problem with Turner as an early second-round pick.
At first it seems like most people had Rodgers ranked No. 1 among quarterbacks, but now it seems as if a lot of people are starting to back off of that prediction and put Rodgers second.
While Rodgers is an excellent passer and adds even more with his legs, I believe he is still an injury risk. He still is a little too vulnerable as far as running the ball goes, especially when considering his concussion history. I wouldn't be surprised if he missed a game here or there.
I still think Rodgers is a first-round caliber player, but I think he has to be either nine or 10. You have to be able to pair him with an elite running back or wide receiver. Taking him any earlier would be a mistake in my opinion.
After two monster seasons in a row, Andre Johnson recorded what some might call a down year last season. He still put up great numbers, but he struggled with injuries all year and only played in 13 games. I expect him to bounce back this year, but I'm not sure he returns to the level he was at in 2009.
At 30, Andre Johnson isn't getting any better physically, and doesn't have the crazy potential he once had when Arian Foster wasn't eating up all of his yards. I still like Johnson for what he can do on the field, and I respect his first-round status, but I don't think he's the No. 1 receiver in fantasy anymore.
If the running back you wanted is off the board at No. 9, Johnson is probably worth a look. He's big and strong, and is poised for yet another high-quality year.
I just feel safe picking Roddy White, OK?!
I realize almost everyone has Andre Johnson as the No. 1 wide receiver this year, but I believe that title should belong to White.
Let's go over some facts.
White has never missed an NFL game. He has played 16 games in all six of his NFL seasons. That's durability.
He has recorded at least 1,100 yards in four straight seasons, and has scored double-digit touchdowns in the last two. He caught 115 balls last year, and will remain the best receiving option in that offense by far. Gonzo is getting old, Turner isn't a threat and Julio Jones probably isn't going to be ready by the start of the season. Matt Ryan is going to look for White early and often—it's just a fact.
Although White may not be a sexy pick on the surface, he's a great player on a great team, and I think he's going to have a great year. The difference between him and Andre Johnson isn't all that much, but I think White is better. I would assume White is going to be taken in the second round of most drafts, but I believe he has first-round value.
LeSean McCoy is the classic example of a right-place right-time kind of guy. He is the perfect guy for the Eagles offense. He's probably not a workhorse back, but he's an explosive rusher that can get you five yards at a time when used correctly, and he doubles as one of the best receiving running backs, if not the best.
The Eagles offense is full of speed, and is very dynamic. McCoy is the perfect fit in the system. McCoy may not lead the league in rushing yards, but between his rushing and receiving, he should be one of the top guys this season as far as yardage is concerned. If he can improve on his goal-line skills and score a few more touchdowns, he'll be a dominant fantasy player.
McCoy is kind of like Greg Jennings in a sense that a lot of the players right behind him are better than he is, but in that offense, McCoy should have another great statistical year.
Michael Vick is far and away the most polarizing figure in fantasy football this season. Some wouldn't dare take him in the first round, while others are contemplating taking him first overall to ensure he isn't stolen away. I stand in the middle.
There's a fantasy football saying that reads "You can't win your league in the first round; you can only lose it." Well, Vick is the exception to that saying. I believe if Vick repeats the success he had last season over 16 games, he can actually win you the championship, and he's the only guy that we know of that you can say that about—but he comes at a price.
It's no secret everyone is betting against Vick when it comes to the amount of games he's going to play in. Selecting him is a calculated risk. I believe that if you have a chance to grab one of the elite running backs yet to come on this list, you have to do it, but if you can't, taking Vick is probably worth the risk.
Most people were reluctant to accept Vick at first, but it's looking more and more like people are starting to acknowledge that he is worth a first-round pick. I definitely wouldn't take him first, but I believe depending on who is left, selecting him in the mid-to-late first round is a risk worth taking.
Jamaal Charles is crazy fast. He can burn just about anyone, and he showed last season that he is just as explosive as anyone in the league. The problem is, I just don't think Charles is going to get any better. I think he probably reached his ceiling last season.
I know that Thomas Jones is going to be less of a factor this year, but I don't think Charles is going to be able to handle that many extra touches. If they do give him the ball more this year, I don't think there is any way he maintains his ridiculous 6.4 yards per carry.
Either way, Charles is a special talent. He is a very good runner, and he's also a great asset in the passing game. I think he has the potential for more touchdowns this year, but I'd expect his yardage totals to be about the same if not less. Even if they do drop off a little, he's still worth a top-five pick—no question.
After his monster year in 2009, CJ2K disappointed fantasy owners after many took him No. 1 overall last year. The biggest problem was his consistency. One week he'd put up 30 and the next he would get just three points.
Johnson's totals dropped drastically last season. He ran for significantly less yardage, and gained fewer than half as many yards through the air. This was in large part due to mediocre offensive line play as well as bad performance at quarterback. Chris Johnson really was stuck on a bad team. With Matt Hasselbeck it should be a little better, but not much.
Johnson is an elite running back that given a better situation, maybe one like Arian Foster has, could be the No. 1 overall player, but given the one he has, I can't justify putting him at No. 1 or No. 2. He has been there before, and he has the potential to get there again, but I don't think he gets back to that level this year.
Personally, I love Ray Rice this year. I think he has the potential to be the No. 1 running back. I believe the difference between Rice and the guy in front of him is almost nothing. There are a couple reasons why I really, really like Rice this year.
First, the Ravens cut Willis McGahee. McGahee has always been a decent running back, but over the last few years in Baltimore he's developed into nothing more than a touchdown vulture. He was never good enough to own, but he always stole goal-line carries from Rice. Now, MaGahee is out of the way, and Rice is likely to get a chance to receive those goal-line touches.
Next, the Ravens signed Vonta Leach. Leach is probably the best blocking fullback in the league. Last year he blocked for none other than Arian Foster, the league's leading rusher.
I'm not saying that Leach is going to come in and allow Rice to rush for 2,000 yards, but basically trading a touchdown vulture for a great blocking fullback can't be a bad thing. With Leach leading the way maybe Rice can get into the end zone in those goal-line situations.
Finally, Rice is entering his contract year. It's no secret that the contract year provides some extra motivation. This year, he's going to be fighting for his first big pay day. Enough said.
Rice is 24 this season, and is nearing his athletic peak. He is a solid rusher and a great receiver out of the backfield. I definitely like his chances to succeed this year. If I'm picking from three to seven and Rice is available, chances are I'm taking him. If I don't get Peterson, I'm either taking Ray Rice or trading down for him.
Arian Foster was by far the biggest fantasy surprise last season. No one saw it coming, but Foster ran all over NFL defenses all season long. This year, he's looking to repeat.
Although I think Foster is going to have another great year, I'm a little bit worried about the return of Ben Tate. Not only that, but it's hard to repeat after a season like that. Foster was a great dual-threat last year. He can run and catch which makes him even more valuable. As if being the NFL's leading rusher wasn't enough.
Foster runs behind a solid offensive line, and has solid players around him at the skill positions. Andre Johnson is one of the best in the game, and Schaub and Daniels are solid as well. When the Texans need to run down the clock at the end of victories, Foster is the guy to do it. When they need to throw to get back in the game, Foster is there for that too.
Overall, I think Foster will have another great year. He probably won't do what he did last year, but he doesn't need to to justify a top-three pick.
Adrian Peterson is the No. 1 player in fantasy football, and I can explain why in one word: consistency. Over his four-year career, he has essentially rushed for 1,300 yards all four times and always gets into the double digits for touchdowns. He's also emerging as a threat in the passing game.
He has proven time and time again that no matter who you put on the field alongside him, AP is going to get the job done. I expect this year to be no different. At 26, Peterson is in his prime, and while I don't think this year will be his best to date, I think it will be good enough for him to be a legitimate No. 1 pick.
When you're drafting No. 1 overall you know that the pick is probably a make-or-break type deal. You don't get to pick again for quite a while and you have to make the most of it. Peterson may not be the No. 1 player in fantasy this year, but I think he's probably the safest bet out of everyone to succeed. You can't go wrong with Peterson.
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