While it is always difficult to predict how rookies are going to produce, that certainly doesn’t mean that they don’t have value. Obviously, once we get a better feel for rosters we will be better able to rank these guys, so consider this early list knowing that it could change over the next few weeks:
1) Daniel Thomas – Miami Dolphins – If both Ronnie Brown and Ricky Williams depart via free agency as anticipated, Thomas will be left sitting atop the Dolphins depth chart. Of course, you would expect the Dolphins to bring in a veteran back who could share carries with Thomas or maybe start until they deem Thomas is ready to carry the load. Even if that were to happen, the second round draft pick is described as a physical runner who could start the season off as a TD vulture and evolve into so much more. That alone would give him value, though the fact that he has experience in the Wildcat certainly doesn’t hurt.
Jeff Darlington of the Miami Herald (click here for the article) gave a great write-up of the situation with Thomas after he was selected:
“A physical back with the potential to be an every-down player, Thomas also has some intriguing pass-catching abilities that could also make him Brown’s successor if Miami continues to implement the Wildcat offense. But general manager Jeff Ireland was clear about something Friday night: The Dolphins didn’t draft Thomas because he was a Wildcat quarterback during his years in junior college.” Read more
The Cincinnati Bengals are a team that will be undergoing a major overhaul by the time they take the field for the start of the 2011 season (whenever that should be). They’ve shaken up their coaching staff, and the roster will likely be different from top to bottom.
Of all the players that we know will be a member of the Bengals, the one who may be the most intriguing is Jordan Shipley, a 2010 third round draft pick who impressed in his rookie campaign by racking up 52 receptions for 600 yards and 3 TD.
Now, the question is how all the changes affect his perceived value and if he therefore becomes a sleeper on draft day:
1) Jay Gruden has assumed the role of Offensive Coordinator. With him comes a form of the West Coast Offense, which likely will bring a big boost to Shipley’s value. The system should play right into the hands of Shipley, who was described on nfl.com (click here for the post) prior to the 2010 draft by saying:
“He is explosive off the line and runs extremely crisp routes that allow him to separate from defenders with a good short burst. He is a natural when it comes to adjusting to off-target throws and will go over the middle to catch the ball in traffic. If he had better top end speed he would be pretty much the total package.” Read more
The Denver Broncos clearly didn’t have faith in Peyton Hillis and determined that he wasn’t a fit for their system. So, instead of continuing to carry him on the roster they shipped him off to Cleveland in exchange for Brady Quinn. No one though much of it at the time, but in retrospect the Browns committed a heist.
Hillis, a 2008 seventh round draft pick, had picked up just 81 carries over two seasons for Broncos amassing 397 yards. Before we give the Browns too much credit for uncovering a hidden gem, let’s not forget that he appeared buried on their depth chart as well to open the season. An injury to Montario Hardesty opened the door, as did the inability of Jerome Harrison (who was ultimately dealt to the Eagles).
Now, after delivering a year where he went for 1,177 yards and 11 TD, not to mention 61 receptions for 477 yards and 2 TD, we are left to wonder if he can replicate a successful campaign.
The big question is if he can stay healthy for an entire season. He plays an extremely physical style, which certainly helps lead to injuries. At various points in the season he suffered injuries to his knee, quad and ribs, helping to limit him a bit. Even the Browns have come out and said that Hillis was overworked last season, so you have to think that they are going to try and shelter him in 2011. Read more
Let’s continue our preliminary rankings by looking at one of the more unpredictable positions in fantasy football, the tight ends (this will list will definitely be updated and expanded as we get closer to draft day and the offseason begins):
- Antonio Gates – San Diego Charges
- Dallas Clark – Indianapolis Colts
- Jason Witten – Dallas Cowboys
- Jermichael Finley – Green Bay Packers
- Vernon Davis – San Francisco 49ers
- Zach Miller – Oakland Athletics
- Chris Cooley – Washington Redskins
- Owen Daniels – Houston Texans
- Kellen Winslow – Tampa Bay Buccaneers
- Tony Gonzalez – Atlanta Falcons Read more
Let’s continue looking at our early rankings by shifting gears towards running backs. With a lot of teams going to a two (and maybe even three) headed running attack, getting an every down back is even more pressing. Let’s take a look at how things currently stand (this will list will definitely be updated and expanded as we get closer to draft day and the offseason begins):
- Arian Foster – Houston Texans
- Adrian Peterson – Minnesota Vikings
- Chris Johnson – Tennessee Titans
- Jamaal Charles – Kansas City Chiefs
- Ray Rice – Baltimore Orioles
- LeSean McCoy – Philadelphia Eagles
- Darren McFadden – Oakland Raiders
- Michael Turner – Atlanta Falcons
- Rashard Mendenhall – Pittsburgh Steelers
- Frank Gore – San Francisco 49ers Read more
When fantasy owners are looking to fill one of the most unpredictable spots on their lineup (at least on a week-to-week basis), Owen Daniels should not be an option that is brushed over. After posting solid years in 2007 and 2008, Daniels has appeared in just 19 games the past two seasons. That certainly has helped him slip from owners’ minds, though he certainly shouldn’t be forgotten.
First, let’s look at the numbers he posted during his “breakout” years:
- 2007 – 63 receptions for 768 yards and 3 TD
- 2008 – 70 receptions for 862 yards and 2 TD
In 2009 he played in just 8 games and then in 2010, while he was active for the first week of the season, it certainly appears like he tried to come back from his ACL injury too quickly. Over the first eight weeks of the season (seven games) Daniels managed to exceed 3 receptions just once, 45 yards just once and he didn’t score a touchdown.
He sat for the next five weeks and when he returned he looked as good in that four game span as he had at any point in his career with 22 receptions for 271 yards and 2 TD. Most notably were the yards, averaging 67.8 yards/game. Compare that to what he did in 2007 (48.0 yards/game) and 2008 (53.9 yards/game), and you see the potential a little bit more. Read more
It is still early and there are a lot of unknowns, but let’s jump in with our first look at the quarterback rankings for 2011. Who’s the top choice? Where do Peyton Manning & Tom Brady fit in? Let’s take a look (this will list will definitely be updated and expanded as we get closer to draft day):
- Aaron Rodgers – Green Bay Packers
- Philip Rivers – San Diego Chargers
- Michael Vick – Philadelphia Eagles
- Peyton Manning – Indianapolis Colts
- Tom Brady – New England Patriots
- Drew Brees – New Orleans Saints
- Tony Romo – Dallas Cowboys
- Matt Ryan – Atlanta Falcons
- Matt Schaub – Houston Texans
- Ben Roethlisberger – Pittsburgh Steelers Read more
There was a time, possibly as recently as 2010, where some people viewed Marques Colston among the elite fantasy wide receivers in the game. However, while he’s been a good player, especially since he burst onto the scene in his rookie campaign out of Hofstra, has he ever truly been elite? Let’s first look at his year-by-year breakdown:
- 2006 – 70 receptions, 1,038 yards, 8 TD
- 2007 – 98 receptions, 1,202 yards, 11 TD
- 2008 – 47 receptions, 760 yards, 5 TD
- 2009 – 70 receptions, 1,074 yards, 9 TD
- 2010 – 84 receptions, 1,023 yards, 7 TD
Again, those are good numbers (outside of his one arguably elite year in 2007), but they are much more of WR2 status to me. Sure, there had been upside, but your view of him had to change when this news broke (article is courtesy of Mike Triplett of the New Orleans Times-picayune, click here to view):
“Colston had a microfracture surgery to repair cartilage around his right kneecap – similar to the procedure he had performed on his left knee in 2009.
That year, Colston was back to 100 percent before the start of training camp, and he said he’s even further ahead of schedule this time.” Read more
That’s right! While the lockout may still be dragging on, we have to assume that sooner or later everyone will come to their senses, make a deal and get the 2011 season started as expected. So, why wait to start prepping for your fantasy draft? There’s no time like the present to start preparing and get a leg up on the competition!
The first article for 2011 will be running today, looking at Marques Colston and how he should be valued for the upcoming season. Tomorrow we will post our first rankings, with the Top 15 Quarterbacks for 2011. Articles will be running nearly every weekday to start, and we will become more numerous from there. So, make sure to keep checking back!
If anyone is interested in contributing on the football side, please contact me at email@example.com with the subject “Football Writer”. I’d be looking for one article per week for what is are non-paying positions.
Please note that this will not change our baseball coverage at all. The Rotoprofessor team will continue to provide the best possible coverage, with the Around the Majors, Injury Report and other articles on a daily basis.
As always, I want to thank to loyal fans of Rotoprofessor. Without you none of this would be possible and I truly appreciate your continued support.