Friday, July 17, 2009

Fantasy Football First Round Mockery - 2009

As some of you remember, I did a first round mock draft for baseball season. Not one to "leave it at that," here comes its football counterpart. We'll look at a 12-team league, standard scoring.
  1. Adrian Peterson, RB, Minnesota Vikings - Kind of a no-brainer. You'd like him to factor into the passing game a little more, but that's being picky. If you've got the #1 pick, don't get fancy, just draft Peterson and let the other folks sort out the rest. Projected stats: 1800 rushing yards, 200 receiving yards, 16 TDs.
  2. Maurice Jones-Drew, RB, Jacksonville Jaguars - Quietly, Jones-Drew has become the next Brian Westbrook. He's a huge factor as a receiver, and he's a high quality rusher as well. There's some risk in projecting him to improve when he's got thefull load, but worst case scenario he's "only" as good as he was last year. Projected stats: 1300 rushing yards, 500 receiving yards, 15 TDs.
  3. Michael Turner, RB, Atlanta Falcons - Turner showed he's got a nose for the end zone last year, and the Falcons showed that they're committed to the running game. I'm not necessarily expecting an improvement on last year's breakout season, but he'll get close enough that you won't regret this pick. Projected stats: 1600 rushing yards, 15 TDs.
  4. DeAngelo Williams, RB, Carolina Panthers - It seemed like there was a point in the season when things just clicked into place for the Panthers, and they figured out the perfect balance between Williams and the heavy hitter, Jonathan Stewart. You may have to deal with some ups and downs, but more ups than downs. Even a time-share with Stewart is going to yield big numbers. Projected stats: 1400 rushing yards, 300 receiving yards, 12 TDs.
  5. LaDainian Tomlinson, RB, San Diego Chargers - I'd like to drop him even further down the list, but I can't in good conscience let him out of the top five. The success the Chargers had last year with the two-headed monster of Tomlinson and Darren Sproles gave you a look into 2009's likely scenario. Package that with Philip Rivers' growth at quarterback, and you're inexplicably looking at the sunset of Tomlinson's heyday. Projected stats: 1200 rushing yards, 400 receiving yards, 14 TDs.
  6. Larry Fitzgerald, WR, Arizona Cardinals - You'll find that I like wide receivers more than most fantasy football analysts you'll read online, but here's my logic. Running backs change every year, often within the year. The elite wide receivers on draft day are almost always still elite at the end of the year. Fitzgerald puts up running back numbers at wide receiver, and he's a safer bet to do it again. What's not to love? Projected stats: 1400 receiving yards, 13 TDs.
  7. Matt Forte, RB, Chicago Bears - Forte was a rousing success for the Bears, who didn't have a lot of those on offense. While he won't be leaned on to be as large a part of Chicago's offense in 2009, the offense as a whole should be better, and that will benefit Forte. A rookie who slides into the passing game as fluidly as he did last year won't have any trouble succeeding with improved quarterback play. Projected stats: 1300 rushing yards, 500 receiving yards, 10 TDs.
  8. Drew Brees, QB, New Orleans Saints - I used to be of the opinion that you had to ignore quarterbacks early on. Then I lost a few leagues and learned that sometimes, it's okay to take a signal-caller early. Brees is the cream of a pretty solid QB crop. He's had at least 4400 passing yards and 26 TDs in each of the past three seasons, and he's still only 30. New Orleans will keep needing to throw, and Brees will be the beneficiary. Projected stats: 4800 passing yards, 32 TDs, 16 INTs.
  9. Steven Jackson, RB, St. Louis Rams - Jackson has been one of the more frustrating players in fantasy football over the past few years. When healthy, he's been a monster. But he's missed four games in each of the past two seasons. I still say to take him in the first round, because when he can play, he'll win you games. Projected stats: 1300 rushing yards, 400 receiving yards, 11 TDs.
  10. Brandon Jacobs, RB, New York Giants - I've liked Jacobs for a while now, and last year he started to show exactly why. He pounded defenses for 15 TDs, and averaged 5.0 yards per carry for the second consecutive season. He may not catch passes, but a guy who can get into the end zone as reliably as Jacobs is a valuable commodity. Like vespene gas. Projected stats: 1200 rushing yards, 16 TDs.
  11. Andre Johnson, WR, Houston Texans - Johnson has even more value in a point-per-reception league, but even if you're in a league with standard scoring, he's a beast and a first round pick. The consistency you get out of the huge reception guys means that you rarely have to worry about a bagel day, and Johnson gave you plenty of...whatever the opposite of bagels are. Eclairs, maybe. Projected stats: 1500 receiving yards, 10 TDs.
  12. Frank Gore, RB, San Francisco 49ers - If you had Gore last season (like I did), you feel like he never did anything. True, he didn't have any 200 yards games, but he was a pretty consistent performer for a team that was completely devoid of a passing attack. Not that it'll be much better this year, but Michael Crabtree should do, well, something. Plus he's a keeper on my fantasy team, so I need him to bounce back. Projected stats: 1300 rushing yards, 300 receiving yards, 12 TDs.
Conspicuously absent from my first round list is Brian Westbrook. I think his reign of terror has come to a close. Last year was the first time in five years that he averaged less than 100 total yards of offense per game, and he was never really a guy people expected to be able to carry a full load. I think he'll still be a valuable player in both real and fantasy football, but I wouldn't tie my fate to him with a first round pick anymore.

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