No, I am not ready to get too serious about next year’s fantasy draft. I am however ready to ramble on directionlessly to lightly recap this year, with an eye towards next.
Chris Johnson has amazingly overtaken Adrian Peterson for the elite No.1 spot. How is that possible? With 1,509 yards, 9 TDs, 39 catches for 322 and another TD, with four games still left to play, that’s how. Wait I’m just getting started. How about his 6.2 yards per carry average, 19 runs of 20 yards or more, seven straight games rushing for 100 yards or more and making Lendale White fantasy irrelevant? Phenomenal performance this season.
Its not that Adrian Peterson has been bad of course. Except for the season low 19 yards on 13 carry effort versus the Cardinals, he has been a top five RB (Okay I admit it I am a Cardinals fan and still celebrating).
One upwardly mobile gent is Rashard Mendenhall, who started the season barely making it into the top 100. I would be willing to bet the Steelers fix their issues in the offseason and come back stronger. If they are indeed better, Mendenhall is in line to become a heavier producer.
No one has ascended skywardly as fast as Ray Rice though. He went from a RBBC (Running Back By Committee) to coveted top five RB in short order. OC Cam Cameron loves his new toy, who is currently leading the Ravens in both rushing yards and receptions.
You’d have to think Percy Harvin, DeSean Jackson, Austin Collie, Pierre Garçon, Sidney Rice, Mike Sims-Walker, Kenny Britt, Mike Wallace, Michael Crabtree, Hakeem Nicks, Mario Manningham, Steve NYG Smith, Jeremy Maclin, and Miles Austin are all just getting started, and will be hot fantasy topics come next July and August.
Then there are all the usual suspects. The young ones like Larry Fitzgerald, Andre Johnson, Brandon Marshall, Vincent Jackson and Wes Welker you can go ahead and pencil in. Some of these older fellas might be close to entering into one of their final years, guys like Randy Moss, Reggie Wayne, Hines Ward and Donald Driver, even though they are playing at a high level this year, you never know when their time will come. Draft them next season with caution.
A few early sleepers:
Early Doucet in Arizona—if Anquan Boldin moves to another city he becomes the No.3 receiver, but he is in the mold of Boldin so he may qualify as a No.2.5.
Johnny Knox—if Jay Cutler gets his mind right, this kid is explosive.
Harry Douglas—injured in preseason in Atlanta, a very quick slot receiver I think Matt Ryan missed a lot this year.
What a huge year it has been for Vernon Davis. You know we all wondered if he would ever turn his imposing physique into TDs, and he has.
There sure a lot of young talented Tight Ends to keep an eye on. Brandon Pettigrew, Jermichael Finley, Brent Celek, Kevin Boss, Fred Davis, John Carlson, and Dustin Keller to name a few.
A bit in the shadows are some with huge upside, like both Zach Millers! One for Oakland and one for Jacksonville.
Jared Cook is an athletic freak in Tennessee, and this could be Bo Scaife and/or Alge Crumpler’s last season, which would almost certainly open the door for this field stretcher.
James Casey is another WR/TE hybrid in Houston capable of becoming a utilized weapon, no matter how quickly Owen Daniels returns from injury.
Shawn Nelson is athletically gifted in Buffalo, but who knows what is happening with that team.
Is Martellus Bennett ever going to get more involved in Dallas?
Young Gary Barnidge has looked good in a limited role for Carolina.
Hahaha, I actually didn’t believe Brett Favre could play all that well this year. Thanks for proving me wrong Brett, it has been phenomenal to see what you can do at 40. He looks like he could play for another three years. Amazing he can put up his best ever numbers. Absolutely Amazing.
Speaking of old, how about Kurt Warner. Someone on NFL Network said the other day they thought he had actually gotten better, to which Mike Martz agreed. I agree, and its a joy to watch. His accuracy is sick.
Never sleep on Peyton Manning, or pick him to lose.
Glad to see Drew Brees is finally getting well earned respect from all angles. He was under-appreciated in San Diego, to say the least.
Not that there is anything wrong with Philip Rivers either.
Aaron Rodgers has been every bit what I thought he would be fantasy-wise. Holding onto the ball too-long-wise has been a bit surprising though. Get rid of the ball! Come on man!
Matt Ryan and Joe Flacco have been a little disappointing, but I think they will bounce back and be top ten’rs next year.
A few early sleepers:
Josh Freeman—poise, prototypical size. Reminds me of a combination of Doug Williams and Ben Roethlisberger.
Matthew Stafford—dude can zing that thing.
Jay Cutler—next year is make or break. He either follows in Jeff George’s footsteps—one of the biggest wastes of talent in NFL history—or he rebounds.
Chad Henne—has greatly impressed in patches.
Bruce Gradkowski—really? I have like Grad since his rookie season. He reminds me of Jeff Garcia, with a will to win bigger than his body.