Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Top Five 2009 Fantasy Football Sleepers

Last week, I wrote up the top five likely busts for the 2009 fantasy football season, and hinted at this article's pending arrival. Not wanting to perpetuate the disappointment that often comes with any claim or promise made by Joe and Joe Sports, I present to you this article, addressing the players who might be under-valued going into next season. As with the last article, many things can change between now and then (retirements, free agency, trades, draft picks, etc), and this list is likely very different from one I might write in two months, let alone going into the 2009 season. But it's a fun exercise (which distinguishes it from leg lifts, a decidedly unpleasant exercise), so here we go.
  1. Joseph Addai - Addai was a first round pick coming into this season, and was generally one of the most disappointing players in fantasy sports. He finished with just 544 yards and 5 TDs, and missed weeks 15 and 16 (fantasy playoff time) due to injury. All that being said, I like Addai to be a high level producer next year. He figures to be the featured back from week 1, and the Colts' offense is always one of the best in the NFL when Manning is healthy, which he should be from the get-go next year. My advice is to watch him slip to the third and fourth rounds, and scoop him up. 2009 projections: 1400 total yards, 12 TDs
  2. Tom Brady - Brady is the kind of guy who's going to have lots of questions surrounding him next year, regardless of whether or not Matt Cassel returns (which I expect he won't). Brady, as you may remember, set a single-season record for passing touchdowns in 2007 with 50, and likely helped some opponent of yours nab the fantasy championship last year. And yet, there will likely be three or four QBs taken before him in your draft next year (Drew Brees, Peyton Manning, Tony Romo, Aaron Rodgers, and Philip Rivers all figure to be in the mix). Brady was never the beneficiary of pristine mechanics or a rocket arm. He's a smart quarterback who's got a great scheme and fantastic receivers for it, and all of that will be the same when he starts playing football again. Draft Brady with confidence anytime after the third round. 2009 projections: 4100 yards, 30 TDs, 13 INTs
  3. Marques Colston - Normally I wouldn't put a guy who's got Colston's kind of track record on this list, but it seems like people still aren't sold on him. He missed 5 games this season, and finished with numbers that are unimpressive even when projected out for 16 games. But don't let the numbers deceive you. Colston is a very talented receiver who'll still have Drew Brees throwing to him, and will still be the #1 receiver in an extremely pass-happy offense. He's going to put up great numbers, and would be a steal in the fifth or sixth rounds. 2009 projections: 90 catches, 1200 yards, 9 TDs.
  4. Chad Johnson (Chad Ocho Cinco) - Johnson had by far the worst season of his career, with just 53 catches and 540 yards. And if you listened to my early predictions on fantasy production, he probably cost you some victories, and you want to extract your vengeance from my skull. That's understandable, but I'm going to keep riding this train. I look at 2008 as an anomoly, and I expect Chad to be a worthwhile pick next year. I'll caution you against drafting him too high, but if you can grab him as a late #2 or early #3 receiver for your team, he could be the guy who leads your team to the promised land. 2009 projections: 85 catches, 1250 yards, 9 TDs
  5. Darren McFadden - I'm not ready to discount McFadden as "injury-prone" just yet, although it's certainly possible that he'll end up being that kind of guy. But after being hobbled and generally un-used for most of the season, McFadden stands a pretty good chance of being ignored on draft day. That would be a mistake. He still averaged 4.4 yards per carry, and is still a very talented player. The Raiders aren't skilled enough to keep a player like McFadden off the field for very long, so I expect he'll get more opportunities next year. Don't draft McFadden to start for your team, but when you're filling out your roster in the middle rounds, make sure you don't let him slip too far. 2009 projections: 1200 total yards, 8 TDs

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