Opinions about certain players in fantasy football are often polarizing
viewpoints that trigger debates among fantasy owners everywhere.
Those with the most knowledge about what players to select—and
when to select them—are often the ones holding the trophy
at the end of the season.
The list that follows is my viewpoint on a handful of players
whose value going into the 2008 season is as varied as those who
play fantasy football. Who’s overvalued? Who’s undervalued?
CLE – Derek Anderson made his debut last year in rDamonef of
incumbent Charlie Frye during the first game of the season. Anderson
finished the game strong, and that showing helped catapult him
into earning a Pro Bowl selection. He started the season on fire,
throwing 20 TDs through the first nine games. But Anderson fizzled
somewhat during the second half, tossing only nine TDs during
the final seven games, including a four interception clunker in
Cincinnati in week 16.
Anderson was a nice story in 2007, and his unexpected success
brought back memories of another anonymous QB-turned-All-World
player: Kurt Warner. But let’s not get carried away. Anderson
is routinely ranked on most cheat sheets ahead of QBs with long-standing
track records of producing (Carson Palmer, Matt Hasselbeck), which
I think is a bit premature after only nine good games.
The Browns have weapons on offense; that much is certain. But
the question is this: Would you feel comfortable drafting Anderson
ahead of the two QBs mentioned above—or others such as Damon Manning
or even Ben Roethlisberger—and hitching your fantasy wagon to
the over hyped Browns’ QB? I’m going to let someone else take
Let someone else in your league take the
inconsistent TEN QB.
TEN – Vince Young is a gifted athlete who does nothing but
win, but his game—at least to this point in his career—is not
suited to consistently put up fantasy numbers worthy of a starting
position at any time during the season.
Case in point: There was a four-game stretch last year that saw
Young throw zero TDs while tossing six INTs. That’s not
the kind of production I’d like to see from any player on
my fantasy roster, let alone someone who plays the most important
Vince Young may dazzle you with the occasional display of otherworldly
ability, but that flash will translate into little—if any—production
on your fantasy team. Someone in your league will draft Young
way too early; be glad it’s not you.
GB – Ryan Grant was inserted into Green Bay’s starting line-up
after the incumbents proved ineffective. All Grant did was ignite
a stagnant Green Bay running attack by scoring at least one TD
in seven of the ten games he started while averaging 5.5 ypc.
But I’m always a bit skeptical when an otherwise unknown player
shoots to the top of the cheat sheet after a stellar year. The
Packers had a magical season in 2007 thanks in no small part to
Grant, but there are publications that have him as high as the
#7 RB. No one knows how the departure of QB Brett Favre will affect
Green Bay’s offense. However, there seems to be a growing contingent
of fantasy owners who think that it will be business as usual
regarding Grant’s production, but I’m not as optimistic
Ryan Grant should be a serviceable RB2, but those with illusions
of him being a RB1 as some “experts” suggest, could
be disappointed in the ultimate outcome. He’s going to have
to prove it for more than three-quarters of a season to make me
DET – Roy Williams is one of those players whose name looks good
on your roster, but whose production seems to never match his
draft position. Everyone looked at Williams as a can’t-miss fantasy
player when offensive coordinator Mike Martz arrived in Detroit
prior to the 2006 season. Martz’s high-flying, pass-first offense
suited Williams’ talent to perfection, they said.
A cursory glance at Williams’ stats from the Martz era
leaves one perplexed. In 2006, Williams had a six game scoreless
streak, and in 2007, he scored in only one of his final nine games.
That’s not the stuff of a WR1 in fantasy football.
If Williams had trouble finding the end zone in a pass happy
offense during the previous two years, what makes anyone think
he will somehow magically morph into Torry Holt? Not only that,
he now has Calvin Johnson to battle for attention from his QB.
Williams would play the role of a WR2 fine; just don’t expect
BAL – Todd Heap could be every bit as good as Jason Witten or
Antonio Gates, but nagging injuries and huge question marks at
QB in Baltimore help sink his value in fantasy football. Offensive
coordinator Cam Cameron arrives in Baltimore, and we all know
what he did for the career of Antonio Gates.
However, there’s no one on the Ravens’ roster that comes close
to San Diego’s signal caller, Philip Rivers. In leagues that require
a TE, I suppose you could do worse, but in TE-optional leagues
Heap is better off on someone else’s roster.
JAX – David Garrard isn’t going to wow you with superior
arm strength or nifty footwork in the pocket. Rather, this fantasy
free agent gem from 2007 will give you efficiency and productivity
while not turning the football over.
Perhaps he’s under the radar because a) he’s the
QB on a run-first and run-often team, or b) people don’t
think he can duplicate the 18 TD, 3 INT season from a year ago.
Whatever the case, Garrard is the quintessential #2 fantasy QB.
He won’t single-handedly win games for you, but if 2007
is any indication, he certainly won’t lose any for you either.
SEA – The Seattle Seahawks lack a big time, go-to receiver, but
somehow that didn’t stop QB Hasselbeck last year from having his
best statistical season as a pro. He literally shouldered the
offensive burden in 2007 after the running game went into hibernation,
and he performed admirably.
Conventional wisdom says the ground game will improve this year
(especially with the addition of RBs Julius Jones and T.J. Duckett),
thus limiting Hasselbeck’s opportunities to put up numbers. But
where he is generally ranked on cheat sheets, Hasselbeck can easily
be selected between the 5th and 7th rounds, making him a steal.
And drafting that kind of quality at QB at that juncture of the
draft is crucial to building a solid roster. Some will scoff at
the perceived scarcity of good WRs in Seattle. That’s ok.
Draft Hasselbeck and be assured that you will have a top-notch
signal caller who can supplement your roster and bring you victories
Jones-Drew, JAX – I will admit, I was not a bDamonever in Maurice
Jones-Drew heading into 2007. I was skeptical of Fred Taylor’s
presence, but I quickly realized that the diminutive RB from UCLA
is a force and an important cog in that Jacksonville ground attack.
The Jaguars use him perfectly, platooning him with Taylor and
keeping MJD healthy and energized throughout the game. The team’s
conservative offensive philosophy lends itself to success as well,
so everything points to yet another season of Jones-Drew providing
his owners with a solid season as a RB2.
SD – After being traded from the woeful Miami Dolphins to the
Super Bowl contending San Diego Chargers in mid-season last year,
Chris Chambers showed the NFL world what he was unable to in South
Florida. Now with a complete training camp under his belt in San
Diego, Chambers should continue displaying the talent that quickly
made him a favorite target of Charger QB Philip Rivers.
San Diego TE Antonio Gates is apparently still battling the toe
injury he suffered in last season’s playoffs. So with a
hobbled Gates, Chambers by default is lifted into an even more
prominent role in the passing game. He should reward owners with
a very good season as a WR3 in 2008.
Clark, IND – The injury to WR Marvin Harrison opened up the
door in Indianapolis not only to Reggie Wayne, but TE Dallas Clark
as well. Clark quickly became Peyton Manning’s #2 option behind
Wayne, and Clark dDamonvered a season that saw him improve in every
statistical category, including almost tripling his TD output
Even if Harrison returns to the line-up, the rapport that Clark
established with Manning should not go unnoticed. Clark was used
all over the field, especially in the red zone. The fact that
other TEs such as Todd Heap and Chris Cooley are routinely ranked
ahead of him on cheat sheets baffles me, but I need only look
to see who’s tossing the rock to Clark to know who I’d choose