NFL Power Rankings: 10 Most Underrated Players in the League
We are finally post-lockout and we've even seen preseason games!
It goes without saying that player ranking lists are now going to flood the web. Being a fantasy football nerd myself, I have explored quite a few of these lists.
I was shocked to see what I consistently found on them. We certainly have overrated players going into the year (Kevin Kolb), but those are obvious—any NFL fan could name an overrated NFL player.
Underrated stars are a little harder to name. The guys on this list have definitely been underrated and overlooked. In some cases, you could even use the word "forgotten."
Malcom Floyd (San Diego Chargers)
Justin Edmonds/Getty Images
Malcom Floyd was a sleeper in the NFL last year, especially with the season-long drama between the Chargers and Vincent Jackson.
Floyd didn't fully take advantage of his opportunity, catching 37 balls for 717 yards and six touchdowns. However, he did compile those stats in just 11 games.
Floyd is back in San Diego this year, and this will be the year where he takes over the reigns as the top receiver in Qualcomm Stadium. Phil Rivers is a top-notch quarterback, and it's time he recognizes Malcom Floyd.
He's got tremendous speed and above average hands (one fumble in his six year career)—he'd be a number one receiver for a lot of teams in football.
Floyd's downfall lies within the fact that he's splitting the field with Jackson and tight end Antonio Gates. Floyd carries a huge upside, and if he stays healthy, expect Floyd to bust out with eight to 10 touchdowns.
Danny Woodhead (New England Patriots)
Danny Woodhead is listed as the Patriots' starting running back, but is ranked 53rd overall in running backs by NFL.com!
Woodhead has never been a starter for a full season, and given his small stature, he'll never be a headlining running back. What's irritating is he's ranked even behind his backup, BenJarvus Green-Ellis, as well as quite a few rookies.
Woodhead's speed and ability to move around defenders is uncanny, to say the least. In 97 carries with New England last season, Woodhead performed for an average of 5.6 yards per carry. You won't find many backs with that average.
He certainly showed plenty of potential and ability in 2010. Expect Woodhead to carry at least 200 times this year and exceed 1,000 yards and seven touchdowns.
Jerome Simspon (Cincinnati Bengals)
Stephen Dunn/Getty Images
Here's a guy who has all the tools to be this year's breakout receiver.
The only obstacle for him is whether or not he can stay on the field.
The Cincinnati Bengals drafted Jerome Simpson out of Coastal Carolina in 2008, and he's been largely ineffective over the last three seasons.
Then, weeks 16 and 17 of 2010 rolled along. In those two weeks combined, Simpson caught 18 passes for 247 yards and three touchdowns.
Now that Chad Ochocinco and Terrell Owens have left the Queen City, Simpson's opportunity has arrived. He will be starting opposite rookie A.J. Green, with Andy Dalton out of TCU throwing the ball.
Simpson showed at the end of 2010 that he was a second round draft pick that the Bengals hit the lottery with. He has a prime opportunity to breakout and make a name for himself as one of the NFL's best receivers.
Simpson will catch 70+ passes this season for over 1,000 yards and 10 touchdowns.
Colt McCoy (Cleveland Browns)
Matt Sullivan/Getty Images
Notable quarterbacks ranked above McCoy by NFL.com: Alex Smith, Kevin Kolb, and Chad Henne.
Are you kidding me? Overall, McCoy has been ranked 28th among NFL quarterbacks.
I understand that he is not currently a top ten, or maybe not top twenty quarterback, but 28th is way too far. I also understand that after eight starts, McCoy had six touchdowns against nine picks.
Six of those nine interceptions came in the last two games of the season, thus skewing his performance.
This year, he will take full control in Cleveland and lead a team that is only a year or two from a playoff run. He is the main tool on this team and there's no doubting his ability.
He's still young, so he'll throw some silly passes. Even so, McCoy can thread a needle like the best of them, and if he can stay upright behind a sub-par offensive line, he'll have a few 300-yard performances.
McCoy will throw for over 3,000 yards and 25 touchdowns.
Mike Sims-Walker (St. Louis Rams)
Sam Greenwood/Getty Images
It's likely he won't be on the field for one snap during the preseason, but Sims-Walker was being called a No. 4 fantasy option even before his injury.
Sims-Walker has had two good seasons in 2009 and 2010 with Jacksonville, catching seven touchdowns in each season and amassing over 1,300 yards.
He did that with a very unsteady quarterback situation, given David Garrard's history of being prone to injury.
Sims-Walker joins Sam Bradford in St. Louis for his 2011 campaign, and he's expected to be on the field for week one. It is expected that he'll be the top wideout for the Rams.
So, how is he overrated? As of now, NFL.com has him as the 30th overall receiver.
This could be due to a new atmosphere and new team, but make no mistake—Sims-Walker is still one of the better receivers stepping onto the field on Sundays.
Sims-Walker could be a late-round steal in a lot of fantasy drafts, so circle him on your Big Boards. Watch for him to go for 60 to 70 catches for 1,000 yards and 12 touchdowns.
Clay Matthews (Green Bay Packers)
Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images
Matthews is one of the Packers' most dominant players on defense, recording 23.5 sacks in two seasons with the Super Bowl champions.
Apparently, that's good for being the 24th best linebacker in the game.
Yeah, this man, who is a top five talent without a question, has been ranked as the 24th best linebacker overall. For a guy who is so destructive to offenses all over the league, you would think he could beat out former teammate Nick Barnett or even an aging Brian Urlacher.
As of now, the experts do not believe it.
Still, he'll exert his force this year. He'll continue to excel on defense, and will record at least 15 sacks in 2011.
Felix Jones (Dallas Cowboys)
Ronald Martinez/Getty Images
Marion Barber's departure from the Lone Star State has definitely been good news to Jones, who will take over the starting job.
Barber always ran with power, but Jones runs with incredible speed and agility. You can watch any kickoff or punt return and know that about him.
Over his first three seasons in Dallas, he has an average of 5.3 yards per carry, which is a similar number to that of Danny Woodhead. 2010 saw him carry for 800 yards, but only one touchdown. To be fair, there weren't many guys scoring in Dallas anyway.
Some experts are saying Beanie Wells would be a better fantasy option than Jones—hogwash!
Jones has proven to be one of the best pure runners in the game. If there is an open lane, you can guarantee Jones will find it and make the defense pay for allowing it to happen.
Now that he will get plenty of carries, watch for Jones to exceed 1,200 yards and have around eight touchdowns.
Deangelo Williams (Carolina Panthers)
Streeter Lecka/Getty Images
Williams had a career year in 2008, scoring a whopping 18 times and amassing an incredible 1,515 yards.
Since then, he's declined considerably. 2009 wasn't bad, but nowhere near the 2008 magic, and 2010 was a disastrous year, cut short by injury.
Now, Williams is back, but NFL.com is listing him 21st in terms of running backs. That would be behind Matt Forte (who is still a one-year wonder) and Shonn Greene, who were both less than impressive last season. Williams has shown he is very capable of being the best.
With Cam Newton likely starting the season and having no great receiving game, Williams and Jonathon Stewart will continue to see a lot of time carrying the football.
Now that number 34 is healthy again, look for him to get some of the magic back in those feet.
No, I'm not implying he will repeat the 2008 season, but he'll get back to over 1,100 yards and score a respectable eight touchdowns.
LaDainian Tomlinson (New York Jets)
Nick Laham/Getty Images
Talk about a man that I NEVER thought would be on a list like this one.
Very simple: He's ranked 44th on NFL.com.
His partner, Shonn Greene, is in the top 20, and Tomlinson topped him in pretty much every offensive category last season.
C'mon guys, he's got gas left in the tank.
Kyle Orton (Denver Broncos)
Ronald Martinez/Getty Images
I try so hard to never feel bad for athletes, but with Kyle Orton, how can you not?
Yes, he's been named the Broncos' starter, but the fact that there was even a "contest" show's how underrated Orton is.
Fun fact: Orton threw more than twice as many touchdowns as interceptions in 2010.
He also managed to throw for over 3,600 yards—in only 13 games.
If Orton started those last three games in 2010, we may be looking at a guy who threw for close to 4,400 yards. That's a great season!
More heart-breaking about the guy is that he's considered the 21st ranked quarterback. That is still behind the ever-overrated Kevin Kolb and the burnt-out Donovan McNabb.
This year, Orton proves his doubters wrong. He starts all 16 games, throws for 4,500 yards and 30 touchdowns.