Fantasy Sports R Us

2010 FANTASY FOOTBALL IMPACT ROOKIES by Jay Futch

With the NFL Draft over, all of the Fantasy Owners in the world are putting together their magical rookie evaluations and sleeper picks for the upcoming season. I’m sure there are quiet a few suspect practices that go on in Draft preparation. Strange, menacing rituals that I will never quite understand.   The wait that ensues after the big game drives men to madness as they wait for their fantasy football draft to salvage their last shreds of normalcy.

Fortunately, there are plenty of buzz worthy players in the 2010 NFL Draft to give fantasy sleuths much to think about. A deep and talented class, this year's NFL draft was by far the best there has been in quite some time. When compared to lesser drafts, this draft offered 1st round talent in the 3rd round. Of course, the list of real impact players is always short, but the potential is enormous for this class. In no particular order, grab the below when you can get them in your fantasy football league.

 

Ryan Mathews- RB/ San Diego Chargers
Drafted 12th Overall- Fresno State

With LaDainian Tomlinson’s California dream officially over, the explosive Fresno State product will have more chances to shine than any other rookie in this years class. Ryan Mathews is a physical running back, and that should be showcased very well within the Chargers offensive scheme. Early predictions have Mathews toting the rock 250-300 times this season, to go along with 35-45 catches. His touchdown total should be very respectable as well, look for it to peak around 18 and low ball somewhere between 8 and 9. Either end of that spectrum is justification enough to draft him near round 5 or 6, and use him as a #2 or a flex option depending on the strength of your roster. He will step in and start right away, carrying 65% of the teams workload to Sproles 35%, easily giving him a leg up on the rest of the rookie class.

Projected Stats- 1,268 yards, 13 touchdowns


 
Dez Bryant- WR/ Dallas Cowboys
Drafted 24th Overall- Oklahoma State

Having the luxury of going to one of the most dynamic offenses in the NFL is reason enough to like Dez Bryant’s potential. And with the new rumblings of Patrick Crayton wanting out, his situation could get even better. With talent around him the likes of Jason Witten and Miles Austin, Bryant will be drawing opposing teams #2 corner on a regular basis. With Bryant presumably being the third target in the Boys passing game, he will be open quite a bit. The beauty of his situation is fact that the #3 guy in Dallas’ offense can potentially mean seventy catches for 1,000 yards and eight touchdowns. The Oklahoma State star will be selected near the 7th and 9th rounds, which is late enough to take a flyer on him.

Projected Stats- 72 catches, 813 yards, 8 touchdowns


Sam Bradford- QB/ St. Louis Rams
Drafted 1st Overall- Oklahoma

The Rams finally used a #1 pick on a quarterback, and Sam Bradford will undoubtedly be the starter going into the 2010 season. The former Heisman winner is without question talented although he is coming off a shoulder injury that cost him the majority of last season. He will need to toughen up if he plans on making it past the first few games of the season, because he will get hit repeatedly given the porous Rams offensive line. The Rams offensive weapons are lacking, with no worthy names beyond Steven Jackson really to speak of, Stephen Jackson should provide a strong running game as the young QB grows into the position. For Sam to have an even noteworthy season, the Rams need to find him some targets. If he makes it an entire season, it is likely he will end up with 2250-2500 yards passing with 14 touchdowns and 20 interceptions, making him no better than a reach even as a backup in the last round. From a fantasy football prospective it is unlikely Bradford will live up to his #1 selection for at least a few years.

Projected Stats- 2,246 yards passing, 14 touchdowns, 20 interceptions


Jermaine Gresham- TE/ Cincinnati Bengals
Drafted 21st Overall- Oklahoma

The Bengals scooped up the best tight end in the draft with the 21st overall pick, Jermaine Gresham, filling a much needed hole they had on offense last year. Carson Palmer, although coming off an unimpressive year, still has what it takes to put up big numbers in the fantasy universe. With weapons around Gresham like Ocho Cinco, new arrival Antonio Bryant, and another rookie who will get his face time later, he should be able to exploit quiet a few matchups vertically by stretching defenses with his size and speed. He is an intriguing player to consider on draft day as a back up tight end in the late rounds. Watch for him on the waiver wire as well, as he may be available- at least until he blows up for 8 catches,115 yards and 2 TD’s.  He has the potential to have a solid season, considering his situation.

Projected Stats- 56 catches, 650 yards, 6 touchdowns


CJ Spiller- RB/ Buffalo Bills
Drafted 9th Overall- Clemson

With Marshawn Lynch presumably on his way out of town, Spiller will split time with speedy Fred Jackson this season for the Bills. The main concern with Spiller is that Buffalo won’t use him properly, like New Orleans attempted with Reggie Bush that failed so miserably. He’s not an every down back and he is too small to take the pounding of 25 carries a game, but he’s got what most people don’t have, ”world class sprinter speed.” Clocking in below 4.4 seconds at the combine, Spiller is the game breaker that most teams covet. At Clemson CJ had some injuries that some might call “soft”, and his toughness will be tested early and often in the cold of Buffalo. He could make a splash, and will definitely be gone before the 8th round in most leagues. I look for him to have around 700 yards, with another 150 coming off receptions, and 6 touchdowns.

Projected Stats- 748 yards, 5 touchdowns


Ben Tate- RB/ Houston Texans
Drafted 58th Overall- Auburn

The Texans are in bad shape in the backfield, fumbles, injuries, more fumbles…bad shape. With the complete tank job Steve Slaton pulled last year, the door is open for a young back to come in and become the starter. Enter Ben Tate. The Auburn standout, drafted in the second round, will probably take over the load carrying the ball for Houston next season. The pedigree of back that comes out of Auburn is substantial (Ronnie Brown, Cadillac Williams, Bo Jackson), and historically do a good job in the NFL. He’s fast (4.34 seconds in the 40), has good size at 5’11, 220 pounds, and having good hands makes him plausible as a potential fantasy draftee in the mid to late rounds. Look for Tate as a flex option near the 7th round, and you may be getting strong value for a future fantasy stud.

Projected Stats- 1,117 yards, 12 touchdowns


Jimmy Clausen- QB/ Carolina Panthers
Drafted 48th Overall- Notre Dame

Of the “Big 4”, Clausen has one of the best chances to succeed this year. The Panthers have an insane running game, which will easily open the passing windows for Jimmy Clausen. Matt Moore is the projected starter, but don’t be surprised to see Clausen take over before the season starts or in season. His intricate knowledge of the West Coast scheme, taught to him by offensive guru Charlie Weiss, will give him the leg up in the quarterback competition. He will have declining fantasy stud Steve Smith to throw to, who still has the ability to make even Jake Delhomme look good, which isn’t easy. If he wins the job, grab him late, if not, keep an eye on him after the draft.

Projected Stats- 2,356 yards, 15 touchdowns, 17 interceptions


Tim Tebow- QB/ Denver Broncos
Drafted 25th Overall- Florida

If you are looking for a little help from the man upstairs draft Tim Tebow…..you will need it. Josh McDaniels is bold, I will give him that, but there is a fine line between bold and stupid. Tebow is the golden child, he’ll sell tickets, jerseys, TV ads, and probably “WWJD” bracelets in Broncos colors by the boatload….but don’t expect him to win any fantasy games for you. Kyle Orton is the starter, which of course is subject to change, meaning Tebow may not have ANY fantasy value in the near future. On the other hand, McDaniels and the Broncos organization would not have taken Tebow with the 25th pick without a plan. If and when he becomes the starter, look for him to be a fan favorite, all smiles, all the time...but not a fantasy powerhouse. He will be drafted, why I don’t know, and if he starts you cannot expect much.

Projected Stats (God willing)- 1600 yards passing, 500 yards rushing, 8 passing touchdowns, 6 rushing touchdowns


Colt McCoy- QB/ Cleveland Browns
Drafted 85th Overall- Texas

The Longhorn gunslinger is easily in the running to become the Browns starter. Mike Holmgren uses the West Coast design, just like Mac Brown, making McCoy ready to compete for the starting job. He is undersized, and there are questions about his arm strength, but he is good enough to do well….quickly. His ability to run will give him extra time to step up and make plays in and out of the pocket. I doubt he will be drafted, maybe last round, but if he becomes the starter he’ll do just fine (no worse than the other guys I’ve already mentioned). If he starts, his numbers will be pedestrian.

Projected Stats- 2,350-2,600 passing yards,15 touchdowns, 15 interceptions


Jordan Shipley- WR/ Cincinnati Bengals
Drafted 84th Overall- Texas

I know you’re asking yourselves, “Jordan Shipley, is this guy serious??” Well, we all have sleeper picks and this is mine. I am dead serious. Like I discussed earlier in Jermaine Gresham’s breakdown, the amount of weapons around Shipley make him the prime candidate to be the Bengals version of Wes Welker. Of course he won’t catch 100 balls this year, and he won’t have 1,200 yards….but he has the potential to be the same type of menace for Carson Palmer in the slot Wes is for Tom Brady. With 85, Antonio Bryant and Gresham on the field, Shipley will be drawing inferior nickel corner and linebacker coverage constantly, giving him a huge chance to be the waiver wire hero of this year’s fantasy season. In a perfect world, I can see Shipley having 65 catches for 800 yards, and 7 touchdowns...to bad the worlds not perfect.

Projected Stats- 61 catches, 776 yards, 6 touchdowns

Good luck and happy drafting,
Dr. Jay