Thursday, August 23, 2007

Fantasy Studs versus Fantasy Gambles

If you picked Edgerrin James in 2006, chances are your fantasy team didn't make the playoffs. On the other hand, if you were lucky enough to snatch up Maurice Jones-Drew, there is a good chance some fantasy bucks came your way at the end of the year!

So how can you tell who is going to be a stud and who is going to be a bust? You can't! A best guess is all we have.

And that is why I am going to take a look at some possible studs versus gambles... with a little bit of help from Fantasy Football Toolbox that is!

Edgerrin James:

James should significantly improve his numbers from last season with the additions of Levi Brown, Mike Gandy, and Al Johnson to the offensive line. Coach Ken Whisenhunt is emphasizing a run first offense, so James will see plenty of carries as the feature back for Arizona. Edgerrin James will be a huge gamble on draft day for fantasy owners in 2007; but if he slides far enough, he is worth the risk because he could break out behind the Cardinals rebuilt offensive line.

My take - I'm shying away. James has looked rough in his first couple fantasy games.

Shaun Alexander:

Shaun Alexander clearly benefited earlier in his career from the road-grader blocking of Steve Hutchinson. Without the outstanding Left Guard paving the way, Alexander is unlikely to repeat the success he had in 2004 and 2005. He's still a stud running back, and one of the few who plays in a system where he doesn't split time in the backfield; but fantasy owners need to keep their expectations to a realistic level.

My take - A safe #6 to #12 pick. Alexander has upside. But the injury bug worries me just a bit.

Maurice Jones-Drew:

Based simply on the numbers Jones-Drew should be drafted at the end of round 1 or early round 2, but his numbers seem a little inflated. In 2007 he wont be taking any teams by surprise as they will come into the game prepared for him. The fact that veteran's Fred Taylor and Greg Jones will be back this years, means that Jones-Drew will be splitting carries and wont get enough touches to be a consistent top tier RB. Let someone else jump the gun and take him well before he deserves.

My take - I agree. 14 TDs was inflated and he will be lucky to see half that this year. He's a sexy pick; so expect some dope to jump on him early this year. Just don't let that dope be you.

Cedric Benson:

With Chicago splitting ties with Thomas Jones, Cedric Benson inherited the starting running back job. Early last season, some people speculated that Benson would take over for Jones at some point during the season. However, Jones was relentless in his fight to keep his starting job. This season it will be different. Benson will get his shot to prove his durability. At this point, even with Benson's history of injuries, he will be an interesting draft day pick, as he will get a lot of touches and who knows how productive he could be. As a starter, Benson should be good for over 1,000 yards rushing and 12 touchdowns.

My take - an early to mid second round guy. Benson should thrive being the only back. And he doesn't fumble either.

Thomas Jones:

The acquisition of Thomas Jones has to be one of the biggest moves this off season. When the Jets began last season, there was hope Curtis Martin would return. As the season progressed, that hope turned to dismay as we watched Martin sit on the sideline. New York did the best they could patching together a running game with whoever was rushing best that day. This year however, the running game shouldn't be a problem. Jones is a solid rusher in the prime of his career. In a well balanced offense, he should have no problem hitting 1,000 yards. Thomas should be a solid fantasy back all season.

My take - Jones is injury prone. But Leon Washington should take some of the load off. Again, a mid-second round pick. I got him in the early third (see post below).

Willis McGahee:

Even factoring in that McGahee missed two full games (the only missed games of his career) and significant parts of a third, 2006 was arguably his least productive season. He finished with 990 yards -- the first time he failed to reach the 1,000 yard barrier over his three-year career -- and his six touchdowns were well shy of the 13 scores he had his rookie season . He averaged just 3.8 yards per carry and his career-high is just 4.0 per carry.
McGahee has shown the ability to be a top level back, but not on a consistent basis. He had just two 100-yard games in Buffalo a season ago, but those numbers should rise now that he is playing behind one the league's top offensive lines and veteran quarterback Steve McNair.

My take - I like McGahee late in the first this year. He has a huge offensive line and better weapons around him to take the pressure off.

Ronnie Brown:

There's little doubt Brown will hit the 1,000 yard mark again this season. The only question is can he stay healthy enough to play all 16 games? If so, he could easily rush for 1,200 yards. Ronnie should be a starting back in every league.

My take - I'm not a Ronnie Brown fan at all. The Dolphins O-line is horrid and Brown will have a tough time getting into the end zone this year.

Travis Henry:

In 14 games last season in Tennessee, Henry rushed for 1,211 yards on 270 carries, had an average of 4.5 yards per carry and scored 7 touchdowns. Minus his rookie season, Henry has rushed for over 1,000 yards in any season, which he has played more than 10 games. Jay Cutler's ability to throw downfield should open up for the run and Henry has the ability to put up big yardage and make the defense pay. Travis should return to prime form this year in Denver as Mike Shanahan's offense concentrates on the strength of the running scheme. Look for him to get the majority of the carries with Mike Bell as his back up.
I am changing my rating of Henry as his nature to be injury prone may be upon him once again. I think he might be a high risk choice at RB as there are many other options out there that could have very high potential as sleepers or RBs on the move.

My take - Henry is the sexy pick of 2007 because he is a good RB running in Denver's system. I'm going with an early second round pick. He could pay huge dividends this year for your club.


twins15 said...

I'm hoping for Edge to do well, but I'm a bit leery. I had to draft him as my #2 back in one league, which has me real worried. Good post.

Sig said...

Edge definitely worries me this year. Unforunately there are no safe bets. Even guys like Henry have the potential to BLOW UP and go for 1500 and 12+ TDs or BLOW OUT a knee. Edge will stay healthy; but his O-line is horrid. Another one is Thomas Jones... he has the potential to put up big numbers; but he too is injury prone. This is one of the scarier drafts in years.