Wednesday, April 28, 2010

2010 Fantasy Football - Rookie Projections

Those of you draft geeks who are even bigger fantasy geeks might enjoy this. Here are my thoughts on how each of the offensive skilled players from this year’s draft class will impact this coming fantasy season.

Sam Bradford (R1, #1, Rams)
With AJ Feeley as his only competition, Bradford will have look really bland in the preseason to start the year on the bench. Although Mardy Gilyard was added, his receiving corp is unimpressive. Donnie Avery didn’t improve in his second year and is really missing a reliable #1 across from him. Keenan Burton and Laurent Robinson aren’t threats. Bradford looks to easily be the class of this class, but he’s not even bye week backup material in 10 team leagues just yet. I’d expect similar numbers to what Matthew Stafford produced in his first season (2,267 yards passing, 13 TD, 20 INT).

Tim Tebow (R1, #24, Broncos)
Kyle Orton is on a one year deal, and the newly acquired Brady Quinn has a very inexpensive contract, so it looks like it will be Tebow’s offense sooner rather than later. Teow has quite a ways to go to be a threat as an NFL passer, so while I do expect the Broncos to involve him offensively in wildcat-type packages, I don’t believe he’ll be used much as a passer in his first season. Undraftable.

Jimmy Clausen (R2, #48, Panthers)
Behind Bradford, I think Clausen has the best chance of making the biggest impact among this year’s class. Matt Moore finished out ’09 as the starter, winning 4 of his 5 starts, and was seemingly handed the offense with the trade of Jake Delhomme to Cleveland. I expect Moore to begin the year as a starter, but the Panthers aren’t heavily invested in him. Clausen enters the league as the most NFL-ready QB of this class, and he’ll get to throw to the still explosive Steve Smith whenever he’s on the field. The Panthers also spent a few picks on receivers, so they’re improved at the position. I wouldn’t be surprised if Clausen starts 5 games this season and if the job is his this time next year. I don’t think he’s draftable unless he wins the job during the preseason, even in dynasty leagues.

Colt McCoy (R3, #85, Browns)
With veterans Jake Delhomme and Seneca Wallace brought in this offseason, McCoy certainly won’t be rushed into action. I think that both Delhomme and Wallace would have to flop as starters for him to see any action. They didn’t do much to improve the receiver situation aside from Carlton Mitchell in R6, so even if McCoy was thrown in there, I wouldn’t expect much in return. I don’t think he’s draftable in any format yet.

Mike Kafka (R4, #122, Eagles)
Kevin Kolb takes over for Donovan McNabb, and Michael Vick is still a part of the team. I think that a Kolb injury is the only way Kafka sees the field this year. Undraftable.

John Skelton (R5, #155, Cardinals)
Keep an eye on this guy. I was high on him going into the draft and think he’s got a shot at being a legit NFL passer. I don’t think it will happen this year, as I expect Matt Leinart to be given every chance to be the guy at QB after Kurt Warner’s retirement, but if he struggles, I expect Derek Anderson to be given first shot. I don’t think Skelton is draftable, but I’m not sure I’ll be saying that again next year.

Jonathan Crompton (R5, #168, Chargers)
Behind Philip Rivers and Billy Volek, Crompton won’t see action.

Rusty Smith (R6, #176, Titans)
Will have to beat out Chris Simms to earn a spot on the depth chart behind Vince Young and Kerry Collins.

Dan LeFevour (R6, #181, Bears)
I don’t believe it will happen this year, but I think LeFevour is in a great spot to develop as a reliable backup QB. Jay Cutler is firmly entrenched as the starter, but behind him on the depth chart are Caleb Hanie and Brett Basanez. LeFevour needs time to develop, but the opportunity is there for some lengthy job security. Still, he’s undraftable.

Tony Pike (R6, #204, Panthers)
I think Carolina was an unfortunate landing spot for Pike, but it was a wise use of a 6th round pick by the Panthers seeing as how you can’t have enough accomplished passers. Pike will be behind Moore and Clausen, so I think he’ll be waiting a while to make a difference.

Levi Brown (R7, #209, Bills)
The depth chart isn’t threatening (Brian Brohm, Trent Edwards, Ryan Fitzpatrick), but I think it would be asking quite a bit of Brown to contribute as a rookie passer. Non-factor in ’10.

Sean Canfield (R7, #239, Saints)
With Mark Brunell currently an unsigned free agent, Chase Daniel is Canfield’s competition for clipboard duty on Sundays. If something happened to Brees, I think the Saints would scour the trade market for a passer. Non-factor.

Zac Robinson (R7, #250, Patriots)

CJ Spiller (R1, #9, Bills)
Spiller enters a crowded backfield with Fred Jackson and Marshawn Lynch already on the roster. Jackson seems set to start next year, and I think the Bills will eventually deal Lynch. That means Spiller should see plenty of action in a backup role as a runner, a versatile receiving threat, and return man. I don’t see a highly productive ’10 for Spiller, but he’s certainly draftable and has to be given preferential treatment in dynasty leagues. He’s drawn comparisons to Chris Johnson, but I don’t see Spiller replicating Johnson’s rookie year numbers (1,228 yards rushing, 43 receptions, 10 combined TDs). Someone will overdraft him based on these lofty projections, but don’t be that guy. I don’t think he’s going to be a player you start on a weekly basis until 2011.

Ryan Mathews (R1, #12, Chargers)
Here’s the guy who’s going to see the football a ton in his first year. Mathews has already been anointed the starter on a highly productive and title contending offense. I’m guessing he’s going to go in the round 5 range in most draft and will be plugged in as a flex option in most starting lineups from the start of the season. I think he’s a fine bet for 1,000 yards in that offense and is going to be a good fit in that backfield with Darren Sproles.

Jahvid Best (R1, #30, Lions)
Call me crazy, but at this point I’m expecting a bigger year from Best than Spiller. Part of it is the fact that the incumbent starter, Kevin Smith, is recovering from a torn ACL sustained late last year. Best’s top competition is Maurice Morris is 30 and didn’t overwhelm Lions’ staff last year taking over in Smith’s absence. Best will play early and often, even when Smith returns. He brings a dynamic their offense is lacking, and I think he makes for a smart pick after someone takes Spiller a round or two earlier. He’s my early sleeper for the 2010 Offensive ROY.

Dexter McCluster (R2, #36, Chiefs)
I’m not sure about this one. With Jamaal Charles establishing himself at the end of last season and Thomas Jones brought in as a free agent, there doesn’t seem to be a ton of carries left over for McCluster. He should be utilized quite a bit in the passing game since Dwayne Bowe and Chris Chambers are their only threats at receiver. Barring a special preseason, I don’t see him as a draftable player in ’10.

Toby Gerhart (R2, #51, Vikings)
With Chester Taylor in Chicago, Gerhart is a must have handcuff for Adrian Peterson owners. He shouldn’t have any value as a starter unless Peterson was to miss time with injury.

Ben Tate (R2, #58, Texans)
Tate is certainly draftable, and with the way Gary Kubiak is talking him up, I expect Tate to see more carries than Steve Slaton or Arian Foster. I don’t think he’ll be someone you feel good about starting on a weekly basis, but he’s got a potent passing game helping him as well. He’ll probably be a mid-round selection in most drafts and should have you thinking bye week fill in.

Montario Hardesty (R2, #59, Browns)
I expect the Browns to run the football a lot this year, and James Harrison is the only other back on the roster with any experience. He shined last year, but I could envision some sort of split in backfield duties. If Hardesty wins the job outright in camp, he’s in Tate territory on draft boards, but if he’s relegated to backup duty, he’s probably a late round pick if that.

Joe McKnight (R4, #112, Jets)
The Jets like to run the ball, but Shonn Greene and LaDainian Tomlinson figure to handle 90% of the carries. He should contribute a bit in the passing game, but given the current situation, I don’t think he’s draftable.

John Conner (R5, #139, Jets)

Anthony Dixon (R6, #173, 49ers)
At a minimum, Dixon is bad news for Glen Coffee’s chances of making a difference in San Francisco. Frank Gore is still the man at RB, but Dixon has a great opportunity this preseason to win the backup job and the corresponding fantasy status of Gore’s handcuff. I think he’s going to be a good fit for what they do in San Francisco and would spend a late pick on him as a Gore owner.

Deji Karim (R6, #180, Jaguars)
Maurice-Jones Drew is obviously going to get 99% of the carries in Jacksonville, but Rashard Jennings (a guy I liked a lot in last year’s draft) isn’t unseatable as MJD’s backup. He’s an explosive player, but I’d like Jennings’ chances to take over carries should something happen to MJD. That said, I don’t think Karim is draftable.

Jonathan Dwyer (R6, #188, Steelers)
If he’s healthy (there has to be some reason he dropped as far as he did in the draft), he’s an intriguing option in fantasy leagues. Rashard Mendenhall is the starter, but he’s had bouts of inconsistency during his time atop the depth chart. Dwyer would likely be in line for a lot of carries should something happen to Mendenhall, but backup Mewelde Moore is the far more accomplished 3rd down back. Dwyer will probably be considered a more valuable handcuff than Dixon in fantasy drafts.

James Starks (R6, #193, Packers)
I’m biased because I like this guy, but he’s in a good situation here. Brandon Jackson hasn’t been able to establish himself as a running threat in his three years in the league. With Ryan Grant set to dominate carries once again and Jackson likely to hold onto the backup job for at least a little while, he’s probably not draftable. I think that changes a year from now.

Charles Scott (R6, #200, Eagles)
The Eagles brought in Mike Bell this offseason to be LeSean McCoy’s backup, so I don’t see much value in Scott. Undraftable.

Demaryius Thomas (R1, #22, Broncos)
With Brandon Marshall now in Miami, Thomas comes into a perfect situation. Jabar Gaffney, Brandon Lloyd, and Brandon Stokley aren’t threats to anyone’s secondary, and Eddie Royal was heavily underutilized last year. Royal figures to be more prominent this season, but no one is standing in Thomas’ way for the bulk of the targets. He’s the rookie you’ll probably have to watch most this preseason to gauge just how much of an offensive factor he’ll be in ’10. I don’t think he’s someone you’re going to start early on, but if he does end up Denver’s #1, he’s got a good shot of being a regular fantasy starter.

Dez Bryant (R1, #24, Cowboys)
Unlike Thomas, Bryant enters a crowd of talent. When the ball isn’t being handed off to one of three capable backs, Tony Romo is looking for Miles Austin, Jason Witten, and for some reason, Roy Williams. They’re also high on Kevin Ogletree, so expect him to see the field as well. Williams is a candidate to be dealt/dumped prior to the season, and Bryant is too talented to sit on the sidelines. Still, I think those expecting him to be a weekly fantasy starter will be disappointed. It’s an explosive offense, but there’s only one football to go around. He goes way up in dynasty leagues, but those in year-to-year leagues probably won’t have in their lineups on a regular basis this season.

Arrelious Benn (R2, #39, Buccaneers)
Here’s the guy who probably fell into the best situation of this year’s class of receivers. In Tampa Benn has very little competition for snaps with Michael Clayton, Reggie Brown, Maurice Stovall, Mark Bradley, and Sammie Stroughter on the roster. I expect Benn to step in and be Josh Freeman’s #1 receiver from the start. He’s absolutely draftable, and an impressive display of chemistry in the preseason could have Been selected high in a lot of drafts. I expect him to lead the Bucs in receptions this season.

Golden Tate (R2, #60, Seahawks)
I’m not sure I love Tate’s fit here in year one. He has a first year coach, a first year QB, and what looks to be setting up as a run-heavy offense. TJ Houshmandzadeh should see the majority of Hasselbeck’s or Whitehurst’s targets, and John Carlson is a reliable tight end. Deion Branch is still around and may stall Tate’s development. I don’t like him as a significant contributor this year, and right now, I think he’s borderline draftable.

Damian Williams (R3, #77, Titans)
It’s an unimpressive stable of receivers he’s joining, but the Titans also don’t have Joe Montana throwing the football to them. Kenny Britt looks to be their #1, and Nate Washington and the uninspiring Justin Gage will see plenty of snaps. I think the best Williams can hope for this season is to be their #2, and when you factor in the QB situation and the fact that Chris Johnson will probably be their most productive receiver, expectations for Williams should be tempered. I don’t consider him draftable in 10 team leagues at this point.

Brandon Lafell (R3, #78, Panthers)
It figures to be a run-heavy offense once again, especially with the inexperienced Matt Moore at the helm. Still, Dwayne Jarrett is the only one standing in Lafell’s way at the moment for a starting job. Steve Smith will obviously be their #1 receiver, but Lafell should be a regular contributor. I think he’s more draftable than Williams at this point, but he’s got a long way to go to be a weekly fantasy starter.

Emmanuel Sanders (R3, #82, Steelers)
I don’t see him being much of a factor in ’10. Ben Roethlisberger is suspended for the first several games of the season, they’re going to run the ball a lot with Rashard Mendenhall, and Hines Ward, Mike Wallace, Antwaan Randle El, and Heath Miller all figure to see more targets. I think he’s undraftable.

Jordan Shipley (R3, #84, Bengals)
Shipley will compete with Andre Caldwell for snaps in the slot between Chad Ochocinco and Antonio Bryant. I can’t see Shipley keeping pace with Ochocinco and Bryant for targes, and there’s also Cedric Benson and his 250-300 carries to consider. I don’t think Shipley is a fantasy factor in ’10.

Eric Decker (R3, #87, Broncos)
He’ll have Demaryius Thomas, Eddie Royal, and Jabar Gaffney ahead of him at the start, but he’s got what it takes to be a #2 this year. I don’t think Decker will be a widely drafted player, but I could see him as a hot waiver wire claim at some point after a couple of productive weeks. He doesn’t have a high ceiling, but I think Decker is pretty NFL-ready.

Andre Roberts (R3, #88, Cardinals)
Even without Anquan Boldin, the Cardinals are pretty stacked at receiver. Larry Fitzgerald is still one of the game’s best, and Steve Breaston and Early Doucet are two of the more promising young targets in the game. Factor in a lowering of offensive expectations by going from Kurt Warner to Matt Leinart at QB and the likelihood of Beanie Wells being a bigger part of the offense, and there doesn’t appear to be room for Roberts to be a fantasy factor this season.

Armanti Edwards (R3, #89, Panthers)
Too raw to be counted on early. Undraftable.

Taylor Price (R3, #90, Patriots)
Wes Welker’s injury opens the door for someone to step up and get some targets opposite Randy Moss. Torry Holt was brought in, but his better days are behind him. Julian Edelman has impressed in limited action, but how will he do under a consistent spotlight? I like Price as a sleeper, and while I don’t think he’s draftable, I think he’s going to finish the season on a lot of fantasy rosters.

Mardy Gilyard (R4, #99, Rams)
Gilyard doesn’t project as a #1 receiver, but he has little competition for catches in St. Louis with Donnie Avery, Keenan Burton, and Laurant Robinson making up the top of their depth chart. Gilyard brings explosion and big play ability, but he’ll also likely be catching passes from a rookie QB. I don’t think he’s draftable right now but is certainly someone to track throughout the year.

Mike Williams (R4, #101, Buccaneers)
See Arrelious Benn. While I think Benn will lead the team in receptions, Williams might produce the bigger plays and more scores. Depending on your league’s scoring, Williams could be the bigger fantasy factor.

Marcus Easley (R4, #107, Bills)
There’s little competition at receiver aside from the inconsistent Lee Evans, but there’s also not a ton of talent at QB. Whether it’s Trent Edwards, Brian Brohm, or Ryan Fitzpatrick under center, no Bill receiver looks to be much of a fantasy threat in ’10. The Bills added CJ Spiller in the draft to go with Fred Jackson and Marshawn Lynch (for now), so expect the run game to be Buffalo’s offensive focus once again. Undraftable.

Jacoby Ford (R4, #108, Raiders)
Since it looks like a QB and not an out of position RG will be under center for the Raiders in ’10, the fantasy projection of every Oakland receiver gets a little boost. Chaz Schilens, Louis Murphy, and Zach Miller (TE) figure to see the most targets, and Darrius Heyward-Bey, last year’s #7 overall pick, will log plenty of snaps. There doesn’t look to be room for Ford to flash in ’10.

David Reed (R5, #156, Ravens)
Anquan Boldin, Ray Rice, and Derrick Mason. Undraftable.

Riley Cooper (R5, #159, Eagles)
DeSean Jackson, Jeremy Maclin, and Brent Celek. Undraftable.

Kerry Meier (R5, #165, Falcons)
The Falcons are lacking consistency opposite Roddy White, but I don’t think Meier projects as a terribly productive pro. Undraftable.

Carlton Mitchell (R6, #177, Browns)
Josh Cribbs was their only real threat in the passing game in ’09 with rookies Mohamed Massaquoi and Brian Robiskie breaking into the league. I think Mitchell has the skill set to be a #1 in this offense, but he’s at least a year away from doing so IMO. I’d keep an eye on him this preseason, but I really don’t think he’ll be draftable.
Dezmon Briscoe (R6, #191, Bengals)
I like this guy, but he doesn’t figure to factor in fantasy-wise in ’10. Undraftable.

Will be fighting just to make the team:
Antonio Brown (R6, #195, Cardinals)
David Gettis (R6, #198, Panthers)
Kyle Williams (R6, #206, 49ers)

Unlikely to make the team:
Terrence Austin (R7, #219, Redskins)
Marc Mariana (R7, #222, Titans)
Tim Toone (R7, #255, Lions)

Jermaine Gresham (R1, #21, Bengals)
He’ll be their #1 TE, but I don’t think he’s a starter in 10 team leagues. I do think he’s draftable if you play two TEs or have deep rosters.

Rob Gronkowski (R2, #42, Patriots)
I think he’ll be the most productive rookie TE in fantasy football. Alge Crumpler doesn’t pose any threat to his targets, so I like his chances of emerging as a borderline fantasy starter in his first season. Definitely draftable.

Ed Dickson (R3, #70, Ravens) & Dennis Pitta (R4, #114, Ravens)
Todd Heap is past his prime and will probably begin being fazed out, but I think the presence of both of these rookies will limit their individual production. They’re both reliable receivers, but Dickson is the better blocker. He’ll probably see more snaps, but I doubt either is draftable.

Tony Moeaki (R3, #93, Chiefs)
Brad Cottam and Leonard Pope aren’t formidable depth chart obstacles, so Moeaki could see significant action as a rookie. Still, I don’t think he’s a draftable/reliable option this year.

Jimmy Graham (R3, #95, Saints)
Intriguing for dynasty purposes, but he’s raw and stuck behind a ton of other offensive weapons at the moment. Undraftable.

Aaron Hernandez (R4, #113, Patriots)
I think something would have to happen to Gronkowski for Hernandez to be fantasy relevant. Undraftable.

Garrett Graham (R4, #118, Texans) Dorin Dickerson (R7, #227, Texans)
I don’t see how Graham is relevant this year if Owen Daniels is healthy. I’m not a big fan of Graham’s and don’t think he brings much to the table as a pro. Dickerson has the athleticism to contribute early and could see a bit of action in the slot between Andre Johnson and Kevin Walter. I don’t think either is draftable, but Dickerson has a better chance of making an impact.

Clay Harbor (R4, #125, Eagles)
Brent Celek. Undraftable.

Michael Hoomanawanui (R5, #132, Rams)
He’s more of a blocker than a receiver. Undraftable

Andrew Quarless (R5, #154, Packers)
Jermichael Finley. Undraftable.

Brody Eldridge (R5, #162, Colts)
Dallas Clark. Undraftable.

Fendi Onobun (R6, #170, Rams)
Practice squad. Undraftable.

Dennis Morris (R6, #174, Redskins)
Chris Cooley and Fred Davis. Undraftable.

Nate Byham (R6, #182, 49ers)
Vernon Davis. Undraftable.

Anthony McCoy (R6, #185, Seahawks)
I like his game, but John Carlson has a firm grip on the starting job. Undraftable.

Will be lucky to make the roster:
Mickey Shuler (R7, #214, Vikings)
Jim Dray (R7, #233, Cardinals)
Dedrick Epps (R7, #235, Chargers)

My dynasty league top 5 at each position would be:

1) Bradford
2) Clausen
3) Skelton
4) McCoy
5) Tebow

1) Mathews
2) Spiller
3) Best
4) Hardesty
5) Starks

1) Bryant
2) Benn
3) D. Thomas
4) Price
5) M. Williams

1) Gresham
2) Gronkowski
3) J. Graham
4) Moeaki
5) Dickson

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