Every year, we do our best to figure out what the upcoming NFL season will bring us in relation to fantasy football. Every year, there are hits and misses by everyone. The start of preseason football is one of the first true indicators of where certain players are in terms of development, and we have some idea of who is performing well and well, who sucks.
After Week 1 of the preseason, we have had some movement on the depth charts, and several players have made significant advances on the ADP scale.
Johnny Knox, WR, CHI – Number one with a bullet. The fantasy world has anointed Mr. Knox the best fit for a Mike Martz system, and he quickly moved past the early fantasy darling, Devin Aromashodu, and now is even going well ahead of Devin Hester. While it is likely true he is the offense’s best fit, most people are ignoring the offensive line issues and the fact that Kurt Warner is not throwing the ball in the Windy City. Jay Cutler has a ton of talent but can melt down at any given time.
Legedu Naanee, WR, SD – A player no one had any intention of drafting whatsoever a few weeks ago. A prolonged Vincent Jackson holdout is starting to register in the brains of fantasy football players and making them search for Jackson’s replacement. It will be Naanee. Never really given a shot, he has performed when called upon. In 2009, he was targetted 29 times, catching 24 passes. His quality size, brilliant hands and decent speed make for an intriguing draft pick in the later rounds. A solid performance in the opening preseason game has made him a quality late round sleeper; if he has a couple more, few will sleep on him.
Thomas Jones, RB, KC – Almost everyone wrote off the old man during the offseason. I can’t say for certain whether it’s his performance during camp or the lack of a performance by Jamaal Charles, but Jones is officially No. 1 on the depth chart. Is it purely a motivational tactic, such as the one coach Todd Haley employed with Dwayne Bowe last year? The coming weeks will hopefully tell us. I am holding off judgement on this one for another week or two.
Wes Welker, WR, NE – I, for one, had written him off. No way does a guy come off an ACL surgery in six months and perform at an elite level. I still have serious doubts, but the hard-as-nails Welker is now participating in contact drills and is cutting on his knee. It is quite remarkable, and I am very interested to see if (or when) they put him in a game situation. The continuous flow of positive news has moved him up to the third round in PPR drafts.
Arian Foster, RB, HOU – Well, the only thing that can move a players ADP north faster than a coach’s approval is an injury. With rookie Ben Tate being put on IR this week, the way is clear for Foster to get a large portion of Houston’s carries. Barring a signing, his only competition is Steve Slaton, and the general feeling is that Foster will get first- and second-down carries plus goal-line looks, while Slaton is relegated to a third-down role.
Ramses Barden, WR, NYG – Rumors are circulating that Barden has surpassed Manningham as the No. 3 WR for the Giants. He is well-suited for the job, and with his 6′6″ frame he is an ideal red-zone target for Eli Manning. Most believe Barden to be the more talented player of the two, but I am a little surprised Manningham may have been replaced this easily.
Mike Williams, WR, TBB – A first-round talent that slipped in the NFL draft due to character concerns, Williams has followed up a stellar debut in OTAs with more praise during training camp. Williams may be neck and neck with Dez Bryant as the league’s most NFL-ready rookie WR. If he continues his solid performance in preseason games, he will be on everyone’s draft list. This is a guy to take a risk on, so buy him now if you can.
Terrell Owens, WR, CIN – T.O. just needed to sign with a decent team to move his stock up. He did, and his ADP moved up from a 13th-round flier to the seventh round, and even higher in highly competitive leagues. He has been taken no lower than 78th in the IBL, a league representing eight top fantasy football websites, including the Cafe. Now, a billion questions. Does Carson Palmer still have an arm? Can T.O. and Chad Ochocinco coexist? Is T.O. too old? To me, he still holds good value in the seventh, but that is where I would take him and not before.
Ahmad Bradshaw, RB, NYG – A little tidbit from a beat reporter about six weeks ago started Bradshaw’s rise. The reporter speculated that Bradshaw may be the best back in the NFC East. While I can’t agree with that, the kid can play. Almost the perfect complement to the violent running style of Brandon Jacobs, Bradshaw has made the speculation as to who will get more touches in 2010 a hot topic. I give the nod to Jacobs, but Bradshaw is well worth his current seventh-round ADP. He should be taken slightly higher in PPR leagues.
Michael Hawes is one of a growing number of fantasy experts who write for the Cafe. You can catch up with Michael in the Cafe's forums where he posts under the name of bungle613.
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