I wish we had this for last night's draft.....cest la vie
P O S T - D R A F T R O O K I E R E P O R T
by John Hansen
ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED: May 2, 2003
If you were hoping to draft an impact rookie for this year, you're in for
a rude awakening because fantasy-wise, this could be the worst rookie
class, in terms of value this year, of all time. This is mostly because
this year's group does not feature one RB who is poised to open the season
as his team's starter. Of course, roles can change, and they likely will,
but right now, it's looking ugly.
On the positive side, there are 3-4 wideouts in this year's draft class
who should make an impact this year and should become premiere fantasy
picks down the road. And although there is no back who currently has the
inside track on his team's starting job, there are a plethora of quality
players who could excel if elevated to the starting lineup due to an
injury. Long-term, this draft will likely produce 3-4 quality QBs, but
barring an injury, only one - Baltimore's Kyle Boller - has any chance at
opening the season first on the depth chart. There are also a good number
of TEs who will be worth watching the next few years.
Although it's premature to set our rookie rankings in stone, it's not too
early to analyze the factors that will ultimately decide who the top
fantasy rookies of 2003 will be. These factors are talent, opportunity,
supporting cast, system, and durability. But the first true test for these
rookies will come in August, when they are competing against their new NFL
brethren. That's when we'll really be able to get a handle on these
players' 2003 value. Along the way, it's a little easier to project these
players' long-term value in keeper leagues, so before we get into this
year's preliminary rookie rankings, here's how we see these players
stacking up for the long-term in keeper leagues.
1 Carson Palmer Cin
2 Byron Leftwich Jac
3 Kyle Boller Bal
4 Rex Grossman Chi
5 Chris Simms TB
1 Willis McGahee Buf
2 Larry Johnson KC
3 Justin Fargas Oak
4 Musa Smith Bal
5 Lee Suggs Cle
6 Chris Brown Ten
7 Onterio Smith Min
8 Artose Pinner Det
9 LaBrandon Toefield Jac
10 Domanick Davis Hou
1 Charles Rogers Det
2 Andre Johnson Hou
3 Kelley Washington Cin
4 Bryant Johnson Ari
5 Taylor Jacobs Was
6 Tyrone Calico Ten
7 Brandon Lloyd SF
8 Anquan Boldin Ari
9 Kevin Curtis Stl
10 Sam Aiken Buf
11 Billy McMullen Phi
12 Nate Burleson Min
13 Shaun McDonald Stl
14 Justin Gage Chi
15 Kareem Kelly NO
1 Jason Whitten Dal
2 Dallas Clark Ind
3 L.J. Smith Phi
4 George Wrighster Jac
5 Dan Curley Stl
6 Bennie Joppru Hou
8 Teyo Johnson Oak
7 Aaron Walker SF
9 Mike Seidman Car
10 Donald Lee Mie
Preliminary 2003 Rookie Rankings
1. Charles Rogers (WR, Det) - Rogers will be expected to be Steve
Mariucci's new Terrell Owens, but it won't come easily and it won't come
quickly for the former Michigan State Spartan. Rogers knows it's going to
take some time, but he says it'll be a game or two, not a month or two,
before he makes his presence felt. You can call him cocky, but he's more
so confident. The Lions had zero reservations taking him with the #2 pick
in the draft and claim that the masking technique he was accused of
employing for his urine test was a non-issue, as was what some feel is a
Rogers should step in as the team's #1 WR, so that's a good thing. But
with a young QB throwing him the ball, and in this complex system, with a
ton of pressure on him, it probably will take the local product a month or
two to get going. The good news is that he could get by initially on
athletic prowess alone. Rogers is now one of the fastest receivers in the
NFL, but the key in this offense is that he's not afraid to go over the
middle and catch the ball. And with that speed, he could take several
short passes to the house this year.
Rogers gets the edge over the man below him because of Mariucci's track
record and an offense that is further along and has a better supporting
cast than that of the Houston Texans. I would be happy to take a chance on
his upside in the middle rounds as my #3 WR, with the understanding that I
will also need to take another solid #3 or #4 WR who is capable of
starting for me if Rogers is slow off the mark. That's not too much of a
risk for a player capable of having the best season for a rookie WR since
Randy Moss in 1998.
Keeper League Value: It would be a major surprise if Rogers didn't have a
prolific pro career, so he's an excellent keeper prospect. It's rare that
a rookie receiver has more long-term value than all the RBs in his draft
class, but that could definitely be the case with Rogers.
2. Andre Johnson (WR, Hou) - When it comes to talent, opportunity, and
supporting cast, Johnson is easily this year's second best fantasy
prospect. Johnson's skills mirror those of Rogers, and the Texans, in
fact, liked him better than Rogers. Like Rogers, Johnson will be paired
with a young franchise QB in David Carr who, like Joey Harrington, will be
a force at the position for years to come.
The good news for Johnson's fantasy value this year is that the Texans
didn't just draft him because he was the #1 player left on their draft
board; they drafted him because his position was the team's #1 need,
period, so he'll be expected to start and contribute right away. Johnson,
often compared to Terrell Owens, has tremendous physical skills, is a
great competitor, has a great pedigree, and already has a history of
coming up big in the clutch. He will likely open the season as the starter
alongside Corey Bradford and should have a little less pressure on him
with the team employing frequent three-WR sets with Jabar Gaffney playing
in the slot.
Since the Texans have a ways to go on offense, and since he's a rookie
receiver, it would be unwise to draft Johnson with the expectation that he
will be a starter for your fantasy team. But in the mid-to-late rounds,
when all the available WRs start looking the same and you have at least
two quality starters, there's no reason why you shouldn't take a flyer on
this future star.
Keeper League Value: It was a good sign the Texans focused on offense in
the draft. It's a clear sign that offense is a high priority for them. And
with the talent they have at QB, WR, and TE, they are close to putting
together the pieces of what should be a real good one. The prediction here
is that Johnson will need only one year to develop and that he will start
producing big totals in 2004, so snap him up if you can.
3. Bryant Johnson (WR, Ari) - In case you haven't noticed, big and fast
receivers are en vogue these days in the NFL. Johnson is another guy
blessed with those attributes. But unlike Rogers and Johnson, he'll have a
tougher road to plow his rookie season. First of all, he's still not the
finished product, and his propensity for dropping passes could resurface
in the NFL after he got the problem under control last year. In addition,
he has only good, not great, speed. But most important, he's on the
Cardinals, a team with a so-so QB and an unimpressive offense overall.
Johnson probably isn't talented enough to be an NFL team's #1 WR, but the
reason he's this high is because he could actually be the Cardinal's top
receiver this year, or at least a starter and the #2 guy. He's not a
tremendous deep threat, but he could emerge as the team's top possession
receiver and also as an active red zone target.
Keeper League Value: The Cardinals have probably the best receivers coach
in Jerry Sullivan, which is great news for Johnson. Johnson is certainly
draftable in a keeper league because he should be starting in Arizona for
a while. But when you look at his good - not great - potential and realize
that he's on the Cardinals, a slam-dunk pick does not he make.
4. Taylor Jacobs (WR, Was) - Will a great NFL receiver from Florida please
stand up? It could be Jacobs. Of the other Florida receivers recently
drafted, Jacobs is the most natural receiver, with a tremendous feel for
the game and position. His hands, route running, and reliability are top
notch, as are his sprinter's speed and big-play ability. His downside is
that he isn't very physical and durability is a concern, but he still
makes an excellent pickup for the Redskins, who prefer less physical
Because of his skills and familiarity with Steve Spurrier's offense,
Jacobs is a good bet to open the season as the team's #3 WR. Normally,
there's nothing special about that, but in this pass-happy system, he
could be a worthwhile pick as, say your #5 WR this year, assuming all goes
well with him this summer.
Keeper League Value: This is problem because the team has two young and
very talented starting WRs, so Jacobs' long-term value and, most
important, upside in a keeper league is limited. On the other hand, he's
used to competing with NFL-caliber receivers, as he did his freshman year
against Darrell Jackson, Reche Caldwell, and Jabar Gaffney. Even as the #4
or #3 receiver at Florida, he made an impact, so who knows? He could be a
great keeper. Just don't go overboard because he's still, at best, the #3
guy here for the next few years.
5. Kyle Boller (QB, Bal) - There's a big drop-off after the first two guys
on this list, but there's a huge one after Jacobs because not only is
Boller nowhere near being a lock to start this year at any time, but he'll
probably also struggle if he does start. Boller has great size, a cannon
for an arm, and he's pretty mobile. His delivery improved with some good
coaching last year, as did his pocket patience and decision-making. Brian
Billick loves him, but he's far from a finished product.
The Ravens have made it clear that they do not plan to sign a veteran QB,
so Boller will have to beat out only Chris Redman for the starting job.
That's not exactly a tough mountain to climb, which is why Boller is
ranked this high. That and the fact that Boller does have the physical
skills to excel early on in his NFL career. But the Ravens will run the
ball a lot this year, and they'll be more about defense than offense;
plus, their receiving corps is average, so I'm not expecting much from
Boller this year. Ranking him this high does speak volumes to the
weakness of this year's draft class, though.
Keeper League Value: Boller is a high-upside keeper choice, but he also
has a downside. He always had great potential in college, but not until
his final season did he put it all together. I'd rank him 3rd at the
position for the long-term, behind fellow rookies Carson Palmer and Byron
6. Larry Johnson (RB, KC) - Johnson is definitely a boom-or-bust type pick
this year. If Priest Holmes is not in the picture because of his injury or
possibly a holdout, he could definitely do well on this team. But if
Holmes is all set come September and if FB Tony Richardson is ready to
rock and roll, then Johnson, save for some special team's duty, will be
picking splinters out of his rear. The selection of Johnson, who last year
rushed for 2,087 yards and 20 touchdowns, was deemed by team president
Carl Peterson "a luxury pick, an insurance policy."
Johnson is bigger and more powerful than Holmes, but he's not as quick.
Holmes is a better receiver, but Johnson can also catch the ball. The
Chiefs obviously believe Johnson is a good fit for their offense or else
they would have not invested a #1 pick in a player who could wind up being
just a big insurance policy. He appears to be a good, but certainly not
Keeper League Value: This is definitely a tricky situation to deal with.
If Holmes were completely out of the picture for some reason, Johnson
would be a real good keeper league pick on this team. But considering the
chances that Johnson could just be a backup the next 2+ years are good,
keeper league owners shouldn't draft him unless they don't need him to
produce right away and are prepared and able to stash him away.
7. Kelley Washington (WR, Cin) - Washington, a former high school QB and
minor league baseball player, is a fantastic athlete. He was drafted in
the 3rd round and is expected to challenge for a starting job and/or
playing time in three-WR sets with him and Chad Johnson on the outside and
Peter Warrick in the slot. He's a huge target who will present matchup
problems with his size and speed; plus, his hands are good.
But there are plenty of concerns with him. He's coming off a serious neck
injury, and there's no telling if he'll be ready to play full contact this
summer. After spending four years in the Marlins' minor league system,
he's not the most experienced player around. And there are some who don't
think he has the greatest attitude. But if all goes well for him this
summer, he will be counted on to make an impact with the club this year,
and he definitely has the potential to do so. Washington is another
boom-or-bust type player this year, but the boom potential and his
opportunity is enough to warrant his being this high on our preliminary
rookie ranking list, at least for now.
8. Kevin Curtis (WR, Stl) - To regurgitate what our rookie expert, Tony
Pauline, said in our pre-draft rookie report, Curtis may be the most
complete receiver in this draft if one was to factor in football
intelligence, pass-catching hands, and route-running abilities. A receiver
who always finds the open spot in the defense, Curtis is as reliable as
they come, and he even showed an element of speed to his game, with a
recent 4.30 clocking during an individual workout.
Curtis was drafted in the 3rd round, but he's not guaranteed playing time.
He'll have to beat out Troy Edwards for the slot receiver job and may also
get competition from Arizona State receiver Shaun McDonald, who is similar
to Az Hakim and who was drafted in the 4th round. But if Curtis can get a
stranglehold on this #3 WR spot, there's no question that he could be a
surprise producer in this offense.
Keeper League Value: It's not that great. Curtis isn't very big and is not
very strong, so he'll probably remain as only a #3 WR in the NFL. Still, a
#3 WR who is excelling on the Rams could wind up being a decent keeper in
9. Brandon Lloyd (WR, SF) - Lloyd is one of the most natural pass catchers
in this draft class. Tall with terrific hands, he always seems to get open
and can sneak it downfield. Lloyd is also a talented red zone target,
capable of pulling in TD passes with his long arms, leaping ability, and
good concentration. He's a polished receiver who should be capable of
helping the 49ers right away.
He's in a good spot in San Francisco, in Dennis Erickson's wide-open
offense. Assuming for now that the team releases WR JJ Stokes, Lloyd has
an excellent chance of being the team's primary #3 WR. And if Tai Streets
were dealt (unlikely now), he'd definitely play. Eventually, he should be
a quality #2 NFL receiver.
Keeper League Value: It's probably a tad limited, since he's probably not
a #1 NFL WR and since Terrell Owens is still obviously the man here for
now. But if a #2 WR in a productive passing offense is valuable to you,
that's exactly what Lloyd could be.
10. Jason Witten (TE, Dal) - Although he's not likely to crack the
starting lineup this year, he should play some, so he has sold value.
Witten is the complete package. He's big, strong, and fast. He's a
reliable pass catcher over the middle, but can also sneak it downfield on
occasion and makes the long reception. Factor in the ability to dominate
as a blocker, and you're looking at future starter for the Cowboys for a
Keeper League Value: Given how involved the TE is in Bill Parcells'
offense, Whitten is well deserving of being the first TE drafted for
keeper leagues. He should be starting by 2004.
11. Justin Fargas (RB, Oak) - The next three players on this list will
need an injury to a starter to make a fantasy impact, but they play at a
position in which injuries are common, and they all can play. We'll start
with Fargas, who is on the best team, the Raiders.
Fargas has a ton of upside in the NFL. He is a slasher with an impressive
combination of power and speed. Like Deuce McAllister, he's a powerful
runner fast enough to split out at WR. He really impressed NFL scouts at
the combine, but the reason he was drafted in only the 3rd round was
because there are serious doubts about his ability to stay healthy, and he
is still considered raw, especially his receiving skills. He'll likely be
the #3 RB this year but if he impresses and if starter Charlie Garner goes
down, he could start over Tyrone Wheatley.
Keeper League Value: If you typically draft project players or a player
that lacks immediate but has good long-term value, Fargas is a good
choice. Don't expect much this year, but Charlie Garner is getting up
there in age, so Fargas could easily be starting for the Raiders in 1-2
years. And he could be really good.
12. Musa Smith (RB, Bal) - The Ravens were stuck in 2001 when starting RB
Jamal Lewis suffered a knee injury in training camp. To ensure that they
are not stuck this year if Lewis again goes down, the Ravens selected one
of the top-three backs in the draft in former Georgia Bulldog Musa Smith.
Smith is a package of speed, explosion, and power. His hands are natural,
and Smith, a fluid athlete, can be a one-man show and take over a game. He
will need an injury to Lewis if he's to make a big impact, but Lewis isn't
exactly Mr. Durability. If Smith is starting at some point on this team,
he'll do well.
Keeper League Value: It's not that great right now because Lewis has at
least 3-4 big years left in him. Smith, himself, has some durability
questions. It would be best to take a wait-and-see approach with him.
13. Carson Palmer (QB, Cin) - One trend we're seeing in the NFL these days
is teams that draft a QB very high getting their guy on the field very
early in his career. Jon Kitna is the undisputed starter right now, but
what if he gets into a long slump, something he's done before, and the
team starts off 1-6? What if the Bengals are pretty much out of it in late
November? Palmer will probably play.
Palmer is a tall and athletic passer who can stand in the pocket and make
plays or do so on the move. He has a very good arm, is accurate, even
down the field, and his decision making was excellent last year. He will
need some time to develop, of course, but he's going to be a good.
Keeper League Value: He and Byron Leftwich are very close, but the edge
has to go to Palmer because of his supporting cast. If rookie WR Kelley
Washington is healthy and for real, Palmer may actually have the league's
top receiver trio as early as 2004 with Chad Johnson, Peter Warrick, and
Washington. Those three could work wonderfully together and give opposing
defenses fits. If you're looking for a franchise QB who could be starting
for you as early as 2004, Palmer's your man.
14. Byron Leftwich (QB, Jac) - According to owner Wayne Weaver, the
Jaguars "solved their quarterback position for the next 10 years'' by
drafting Byron Leftwich. That's not exactly a ringing endorsement for
starter Mark Brunell. With Jacksonville coming off three consecutive
losing seasons, and with Leftwich on the roster, Brunell's time with the
team is definitely coming to an end soon. The team isn't ruling out the
chance that Leftwich will play as a rookie, so he'll almost definitely
play some in the second half of the season if the team is out of the
Leftwich should be a phenomenal NFL QB. He's smart, tough, and a good
leader. He's a huge passer with a very strong arm. Like Dan Marino, he
has a quick release and is very accurate, so he should spend the next 10
years sitting back in the pocket picking NFL defenses apart. He's not
very mobile, but he's certainly not a statue back there, either.
Keeper League Value: Long-term, he could very well be the best QB in this
year's draft class, but the short-term problem is the team's lack of
quality at the WR position. WR Jimmy Smith is nearing the end, and the
team doesn't have a single receiver who we can legitimately say has a
bright future in the league. That's a problem, so Leftwich probably won't
do much his first two years. But when you draft a franchise QB the next
thing you do is put players around him, so the Jags will definitely
address the WR position in the next two drafts. Like Daunte Culpepper and
Donovan McNabb in 1999, Leftwich should come a little cheaper than he
should in keeper leagues because he'll open the season holding a
clipboard. But the future will come quickly for this talented player.
15. Onterrio Smith (RB, Min) - Apparently, the Vikings just couldn't pass
on such a talented back. It's actually a shame that the Vikings, a team
that doesn't have a short-term or long-term need for a starting RB,
drafted Smith. Smith isn't very big, but he plays larger than he is, and
he's a triple-threat player who beats opponents carrying the ball,
catching it, or running back kicks. Combining instinct, explosion, and the
speed not as good but comparable to starter Michael Bennett to run away
from defenders, Smith displays franchise-type abilities and takes over
games. But he has plenty of issues. Durability is a problem, as is
maturity. The Vikings talked with him at length and they not only felt
comfortable with him as a player and a person, but they also ranked him as
the top back in the draft and as a 1st round talent.
This year, he'll likely be only the #3 RB and the team's primary kick
returner. But if he's tearing it up and if Bennett goes down, he could
start over Moe Williams. If this all happens, then he'd be a must pickup
because his upside would be great.
Keeper League Value: Even more so than with (Musa) Smith keeper league
owners need to take a wait-and-see approach with O. Smith. If he's doing
well in training camp and appears to have his character issues behind him,
he'll make a super high-upside pick for the long-term. But just keep in
mind that Bennett is also very young and already proven, so Smith could be
riding the pine for a while.
16. Anquan Boldin (WR, Ari) - Boldin is a little raw, but he's a big,
physical and athletic receiver with good speed, so his fantasy potential
is obvious. The Cardinals are hoping he can be a possession guy like
Frank Sanders, but he has the potential to be a little more than that if
he can gain back all his speed (he had a major knee injury in 2001). There
is definitely an opportunity for him to play plenty this year, but it's
too early to tell exactly what his role will be, since the Cardinal roster
includes several promising young receivers.
Keeper League Value: Keeper league owners tend to only keep premiere-type
receivers, and it's way too early to put Boldin in that class. At this
point, he's just a reach pick in a keeper league unless your looking at
keeping 4-5 receivers or more.
17. Dallas Clark (TE, Ind) - Clark was an odd #1 pick for the Colts, but
they definitely needed to get a viable TE to team with Marcus Pollard in
the team's two-TE sets. Last year, Pollard greatly missed the presence of
Ken Dilger. Clark isn't anywhere near the blocker that Dilger is, though,
so the drafting of another pass-catching TE was a little odd that high.
The bottom line, though, is that Clark will be on the field plenty, so he
has some fantasy value.
Keeper League Value: The Colts absolutely love Clark's speed and
athleticism. And with Pollard getting up there in age at 31, Clark has
good potential in keeper or dynasty leagues.
18. Artose Pinner (RB, Det) - A bulky and powerful runner, Pinner's stock
dropped big time after he broke his left tibia and tore a ligament in the
Senior Bowl. He's still recovering from the injuries, and it's not yet
known if he'll even be ready for training camp, so that's obviously a
concern. But for the Lions to take him in the 4th round, #99 overall,
they must have seen something in him they really liked. He doesn't have
great speed, but he has the potential to wear a defense down, so he could
be an (only) okay fit for Steve Maricci, who likes to run the ball as much
as anyone. But for right now, he's only #3 on the depth chart at best,
and he's coming off an injury, so he's a longshot to make an impact this
Keeper League Value: Again, since the Lions obviously see something they
like in him, and since starter James Stewart's days are numbered, Pinner
has some value in deeper keeper or dynasty leagues.
19. Tyrone Calico (WR, Ten) - At least in terms of opportunity, Calico has
good potential this year because the Titans have yet to find a permanent
replacement for #2 WR Kevin Dyson. Calico has excellent size at 6'3", and
he also has good speed. But he's not a polished receiver and his hands are
suspect, so he has a long way to go.
Keeper League Value: With his physical abilities and opportunity, he's a
viable keeper prospect for those in larger leagues. But until he shows
more consistency in all areas, he's nothing more than a high-upside guy
you may want to stash away in the hopes that he puts it all together down
20. L.J. Smith (TE, Phi) - Andy Reid is hesitant to play young skill
players, but Smith's receiving skills should prompt him to get the Rutgers
product on the field in his first season. Not known for his blocking,
Smith is not only a reliable target, but he also has the speed to stretch
the defense and make some big plays. He'll learn the ropes from starter
Chad Lewis this year and could have his moments. But this is a tough
offense to pick up, so his real value is in keeper leagues.
Keeper League Value: If Smith is doing well this summer and looks like the
real deal, then he'll make a real nice sleeper for those in keeper or
The best of the rest:
- George Wrighster (TE, Jac) - The drafting of Wrighster is viewed as a
clear sign that Kyle Brady, who is refusing to take a pay cut, will be
gone. The Panthers want a more athletic TE for Bill Musgrave's offense
and Wrighster fits the bill.
- Dan Curley (TE, Stl) - With Ernie Conwell gone, the Rams drafted a guy
in Curley who reminds them of the new Saint TE (Conwell). Curley is an
athletic TE who has good speed and can make plays down the field. But
Curley has been injury-prone and will likely take a year or two to
develop, so he's a reach at this point. If drafting the next Ernie
Conwell does something for you, Curley could be that in a couple of
- Chris Brown (RB, Ten) - Brown may be the team's replacement for Eddie
George in a couple of years so his value is much higher for those in
keeper leagues. A big strong back that was very productive in college,
Brown's upright running style makes him an injury risk, plus he's had
very little experience as a receiver and had some fumbling problems in
college. He's a guy who could go either way long term in the NFL.
- Sam Aiken (WR, Buf) - Aiken has good size and is a reliable receiver,
but he lacks speed. He'll be hard-pressed to get any playing time this
year (barring an injury). But he has a chance to someday emerge as
their #2 WR and be a solid possession guy.
- Bethel Johnson (WR, NE) - Maybe the Pats know something we don't, but
the selection of Johnson in the 2nd round was considered a major
reach. He has decent size, good speed, and he has big play potential.
But he's considered an underachiever who doesn't always work hard, and
durability is also an issue. But again, the Pats must be very high on
him so he's someone to watch. They probably could have drafted him 3-4
rounds later, though.
- Billy McMullen (WR, Phi) - He has very good size, which is something
the team needs at receiver, but he lacks speed. If the Eagles don't
bring Antonio Freeman back and if they give up on Freddie Mitchell in
camp, McMullen could see a fairly significant amount of playing time
- Domanick Davis (RB, Hou) - Although he doesn't have good size, Davis is
a speedy and shifty back who could be the team's replacement for James
Allen and serve as the team's 3rd down back.
- Quentin Griffin (RB, Den) - Griffin is tough, but very small. And
although he's quick, he isn't very fast. He's nothing but a backup and
special team guy but he could come in and play effectively for a few
games if pressed into service due to an injury.
- LaBrandon Toefield (RB, Jac) - Here's another guy who was considered a
reach, though he would have been a solid one a few rounds later (he
went in the 4th). Before tearing his ACL in 2001, Toefield was
considered a good prospect, but he hasn't been the same since and also
suffered a broken forearm last year. When healthy he's a good inside
runner and it looks like the team took him hoping he would turn into a
Stacey Mack-type player for them.
- Nate Burleson (WR, Min) - With an impressive showing in camp, this
receiver could move up the list. Burleson is a little thin, and he's
not a good downfield threat, but he's a polished receiver who could
wind up being a good possession guy for the Vikings.
- Willis McGahee (RB, Buf) - He's a longshot to play this year, and even
if he does, he won't start, so his value this year is low. Long-term,
McGahee will be a fantastic player if his knee cooperates. Fantasy
owners are definitely taking a risk by drafting him high, but just as
he did in the NFL draft, he'll go high in fantasy drafts because the
upside is fantastic. Keep in mind that, even if he's healthy in 2004,
he's on a team that won't have a need for a starting back unless Travis
Henry goes down. But if you're feeling lucky and can afford to take a
risk, rank him #1 at the RB position for keeper league purposes. If
he's 100%, think Fred Taylor circa 1998.
- Bennie Joppru (TE, Hou) - Although he's a decent receiving TE, he'll
likely be nothing more than a blocking TE this year because the team
already has Billy Miller. That's strange because Joppru isn't a very
good blocker, so maybe we're missing something. Regardless, he's a long
shot to do anything this year.
- Shaun McDonald (WR, Stl) - McDonald reminds the Rams of Az Hakim, but
he's at best the #5 WR this year.
- Rex Grossman (QB, Chi) - As long as Chris Chandler is still on the
roster he will be only the #3 QB. But if Chandler is gone, he goes way
up because he'd be one player away from the starting job and that
player would be Kordell Stewart. He's probably not worth drafting in a
keeper league unless you go deep.
- Lee Suggs (RB, Cle) - He wouldn't be expected to do much this year
unless Jamel White was traded or if William Green got hurt. But Suggs
is expected to miss a good portion of the season anyway with a shoulder
injury. We're just putting him here so you didn't think we forgot