Mar 16, 2009
I spent time this weekend updating our Keeper League Rankings, and while doing so I found a good number of players who are kind of jumping off the page right now as keeper values, sleepers, etc. So I figured they would make for a good post. Here’s what I got right now at QB and RB, beyond the obvious.
Trent Edwards (QB, Buf) – Clearly, the addition of Terrell Owens helps a lot for the short-term. You could easily make the argument that Owens and Lee Evans is one of the best three 1-2 punches in the league at WR. Some people think Edwards stinks, but those people either haven’t seen him play much, or are basically clueless. I’m not saying Edwards will be great, or even very good, but what I am saying is that he has the tools and the intangibles to excel. He’s exhibited enough game to lead me to believe that he’ll have a very nice career these next 5-7 years.
Luke McCown (QB, TB) – If the Bucs don’t get Jay Cutler, then we’re looking at McCown being Tampa’s starter in 2009. McCown may be somewhat similar to Aaron Rodgers in that he’s young but experienced in the league and on an NFL roster, and his supporting cast may offset his inexperience starting. We can’t expect anything close to Rodgers’ 2008 numbers, but I think McCown could be good for 20+ TD passes, starting this year if he starts. Our Adam Caplan likes him a lot, and he’s rarely wrong on QBs. I also like his gunslinger mentality.
Chad Henne (QB, Mia) – The team is very high on him, and he has the tools, including a very strong arm, to be a quality starter. We obviously need to see him play, but he has the ability to be a good one, and his opportunity is excellent. He may even see the field in 2009 if Chad Pennington struggles.
Rashard Mendenhall (RB, Pit) – We loved him last year, but it did become evident once he went to Pittsburgh that it was going to be slow going for Mendenhall out of the gate. I actually think that’s for the best, and my feeling is that he won’t truly break out in 2009. However, if he can stay healthy, his potential no later than 2010 is staggering. A talented bruiser with top speed for a big man and who can catch the ball? Hey, I know some people think he’s a little soft, but when was the last time the Steelers really missed on a high pick? That’s what I thought. Get this guy in a keeper league and keep expectations realistic for this year.
Darren Sproles (RB, SD) – Starter LaDainian Tomlinson is back, but that’s fine for Sproles. I believe he’ll still get 10+ touches a game in ’09, and he could still be a top-20 back with a consistent role in the offense. He’ll be unrestricted in 2010, and I don’t think they place the franchise tag on him, so he’ll be able to pick an ideal landing spot. He’s a play-to-win keeper, no doubt.
Jamaal Charles (RB, KC) – The more I look at this guy’s situation, the more I like him. Larry Johnson may not be long for this team, and while Kolby Smith is serviceable, he has little juice. The issue with Charles is, can be a lead back? I’m not sure just yet, but I do know he’s dangerous as both a runner and a receiver if he gets a lot of touches, and I see him getting more touches in 2009 – perhaps a lot more. He is a very savvy pickup right now.
Tim Hightower (RB, Ari) – We liked him last summer and we were on him, but we did temper expectations and mention that he’s not exactly special, so we couldn’t expect the world, and I think we kind of saw all that unfold in 2008. Still, if they do get rid of Edgerrin James, and that’s up in the air still, Hightower’s got significant value at least the next 1-2 years while Kurt Warner is still there.
Pierre Thomas (RB, NO) – The cat’s out of the bag with Thomas, but I’m taking a wait-and-see approach before claiming he’s a brilliant keeper. He’s obviously a very worthy prospect, but we’ll have to see if they get a “bigger back” to pound the ball with because Thomas really isn’t that. If they do, then Thomas’ role is in danger because they still have Reggie Bush. If they don’t, then we can expect solid production. But just keep this in mind: a lot of his big plays last year came out of passing formations and while the team was playing from behind. He’s not exactly a guy you can line up behind Drew Brees and feed the rock to as a runner and expect a ton of success with.
Fred Jackson (RB, Buf) – Starter Marshawn Lynch was 15th at RB and PPG and overall scoring, and he probably would have been 10th had he not missed a game. That’s decent, for sure, but let’s face it: he didn’t take a step forward in ’08, he took a step back. Jackson was actually better. He was more decisive and explosive, so now with Lynch facing a suspension, almost surely four games, Jackson’s stock goes up. In deep dynasty leagues, Xavier Oman is someone to look at. I saw him practice at the Bills facility in May, and noticed his stocky build and physicality.
Ahmad Bradshaw (RB, NYG) – They’ll have to use him more now, with Derrick Ward gone. He has a lot to offer, so while I respect the potential of Danny Ware, a bigger back, Bradshaw needs to be isolated. The one issue, however, is if his off-field issues keep slowing him down.
Tashard Choice (Dal) – You may think I’m nuts, but I think the Cowboys would be okay trading Marion Barber. Yeah, they’d lose his toughness, especially near the goal, but Choice is a damn good back. I would feel comfortable with Choice and Felix Jones (a good keeper in his own right) splitting carries – especially since Jones is good enough to be a featured back in this league. The Cowboys have too many good backs, so maybe they trade Choice.
Ryan Torain (Den) – He’s gotta stay healthy, but I saw a glimpse of his potential in that one game last year, and it was intriguing. Of all the backs on their current roster, he’s the best choice.
Kolby Smith (KC) – If LJ does go, Smith could be their power guy for a few years. He’s nothing special, but he’s good enough to handle 10-15 carries a game as a de facto starter.
Brandon Jackson (GB) – He’s improved steadily, and Ryan Grant, while solid, isn’t much more than a guy, and Jackson is a better receiver. Remember that the current coaching staff drafted Jackson to be their guy, not Grant.
Danny Ware (NYG) – He could be yet another big back who steps in this excellent situation and excels, so he needs to be on the radar.
James Johnson (Cin) – Spent this past year on the practice squad, but he could factor into this mix soon. You certainly can’t assume Cedric Benson will be a savior.
Tomorrow, I’ll take a look at the WRs and the TEs.