Thursday, May 04, 2006

Draft Review - Fantasy Slant

Boyer delivered the official draft review, but I wanted to provide one with a fantasy football spin. This will cover not only the rookies, but how various selections may affect returning starters.

Arizona – Leinart was obviously a steal here for the Cards, but don’t look for him to score for you this year unless Warner goes down. While worth a late-round insurance policy for a perpetually injured QB in seasonal leagues, Leinart is worth a shot in keeper leagues as he will no doubt develop a great rapport with studs Fitzgerald and Boldin and will no doubt benefit from new Cardinal Edgerrin James. Lutui should help keep Warner upright (a very good thing for him) and Pope gives him a nice safety valve so he should improve on his numbers from last year as long as he stays healthy.

Atlanta – Not much here except that if you’ve been relying on one of the better backup RB’s in the league in TJ Duckett to get you those consistent TD’s, you may have to find another option. The Falcons grabbing Jerious Norwood in the 3rd spells the probable end of Duckett’s tenure and drops his value unless he gets traded. Look for Dunn to maybe be on the field a little more at the goal-line.

Baltimore – A slight upgrade to their DST

Buffalo – I think everyone was shocked to see Whitner go so early. But they have their first five picks on defense here (and 3 of first 4 on DB’s) and it should dramatically improve a unit that was very solid two years ago but struggled last year.

Carolina – What’s the over/under on the number of games before Foster gets hurt and DeAngelo Williams starts? I like Williams and was surprised to see him end up here instead of New England. He’ll be part of a platoon early, but will start in the event of an injury and will likely supplant Foster as the Panthers’ feature back as early as next year.

Chicago – For as stout as their D was last year, and as weak as their O was….this draft surprises me. I don’t think they did poorly, but did they get what they REALLY needed? Their secondary, the only arguable defensive weakness should be greatly improved and Devin Hester could add a few special teams TD’s to one of FF’s most dominant DST units.

Cincinnati – I don’t have much to comment on here except that Ethan Kilmer’s Rose Bowl performance and pro day earned him a lot of money. Very shocked to see him get drafted and Anwar Phillips remain undrafted

Cleveland – I like the two early defensive picks. After seriously upgrading their O-line in free agency, Crennel now gets to work on his D. Harrison was a great pick in the 5th (who I can’t believe Denver passed on) who should be a nice change of pace for Droughns and could end up stealing some carries

Dallas – Parcells must really like those 2 TE sets – I don’t know that any of this is very impactful to the FF world

Denver – They got Javon Walker for a 2nd round pick – even coming off an injury a player with Walker’s skills (much less experience) would’ve gone mid-first-round (see Antonio Cromartie). Walker’s value shouldn’t change in moving to Denver. Rod Smith, and Ashley Lelie (if he remains a Bronco) should move down the depth chart. Plummer could do better this year by having more targets but his value in keeper leagues took a big hit with the drafting of Jay Cutler – who could be a nice pickup in deeper keeper leagues. Scheffler takes Putzier’s place. The big winner here is probably Ron Dayne because Denver didn’t draft a RB. This was a surprise to me. Dayne is rumored to be sharing the backfield with Bell, but that was supposed to be the scenario last year with Mike Anderson seeing more work. Dayne has thinned down from his Wisconsin/NYG days and could be a potential sleeper candidate in Mike Shanahan’s highly-vaunted running attack.

Detroit – Calhoun was a steal by the Lions in the third and should make underachieving Kevin Jones a little nervous. Keep an eye on this backfield in the pre-season and don’t be surprised if Calhoun emerges as the starter at some point this year. Of note – there are no rookie Lions WR’s for you to blow your pick on this year.

Green Bay – The Packers traded down to amass more picks and got a lot of depth at need positions – particularly their weak D. So they improve from a completely worthless fantasy unit to one you should only merely avoid. They also drafted 3 WR’s to replace Javon Walker but none of them will help you. Donald Driver and Robert Ferguson have increased value, however.

Houston – Williams can be debated, but beyond that, but between him and Ryans, Houston’s DST should be vastly improved. Spencer and Winston should keep Carr off his butt and make room for Domanick Davis which should solve their biggest problem last year. Look for Carr to rediscover the groove that made him and Andre Johnson a hot duo in 2004 and Davis to have a solid year under new coach (former Denver OC) Gary Kubiak.

Indianapolis – Addai is rumored to be cut from the same mold as Edge – but don’t look for him to reproduce Edge’s numbers for you. At least early on, Addai will share this backfield with Dominic Rhodes who has filled in admirably for Edge before. Look for Addai to emerge as the featured back and solid FF starter by the end of the year as he picks up the blocking schemes that Peyton Manning will need help with. Manning may lose a touch of his statistical dominance without Edge’s blocking and solid running game.

Jacksonville – Leftwhich needed a reliable safety valve and Lewis is a good option here. I don’t think much of Drew as an every down back, but he’ll help the return game and is an extra insurance policy to spell Greg Jones during the inevitable Fred Taylor injury. Barring that – look for his biggest impact to be on the already solid Jacksonville DST.

Kansas City – If KC keeps drafting defense they’ll eventually be a decent DST, right? Not yet. But they’re improving. Croyle was a great pick to groom behind Green for a few years but would only be valuable in deeper keeper leagues and/or you need a handcuff for Trent Green.

Miami – not much to speak of here

Minnesota – Greenway/Griffin should step in right away for Minnesota’s D which improved by the end of last year.

New England – As mentioned previously, I would’ve picked Williams here over Maroney but to each his own. Maroney should start, but will definitely share some carries with Corey Dillon. Dillon’s stock drops with the pick of Maroney but you shouldn’t be relying on a 32 year old RB anyways. Jackson was a steal in the 2nd round but it’s WR-by-committee in New England, which limits his fantasy appeal. I don’t understand the David Thomas pick – he’s not necessarily an improvement upon Graham or Watson? They must not expect a lot from Grammatica to use a draft pick on a kicker. You shouldn’t either.

New Orleans – Reggie Bush will be an obvious playmaker. A lot of his damage, however may be done on special teams and he still shares a backfield (technically) with Deuce McAllister but that still shouldn’t stop you from selecting him in the second round of seasonal leagues or with the first pick in your keeper league’s rookie draft. McAllister’s value takes a huge hit, here. Drew Brees has a little more value as he goes from having LT to having Reggie Bush AND Deuce. Not bad. NO’s DST gets a boost from Bush and 2nd round Safety Roman Harper.

New York Giants – As Eli continues to develop as a passer and solid fantasy option, speedy Sinorice Moss should help spread the field for him and give him another great target. Look for Moss to draw some double-coverage away from Plaxico Burress but his own stats may not be enough to use him as more than your 3rd WR.

New York Jets – Credit Mangini for the best draft I may have ever seen the Jets have. They got the two best O-linemen on the board which should completely anchor their line.....and keep Pennington upright. This is better than Pennington's ever had there - too bad Laverneus Coles is his best weapon. And Leon Washington should, at worst, spell Martin but potentially develop into his replacement. He’s worth a shot in the later rounds as insurance or a potential keeper for next year.

Oakland – Not really much to speak of here as their defensive improvements are still not enough to consider using this unit.

Philadelphia – Solid picks on both of their lines – Philly DST remains solid, Brian Westbrook could find a few more holes, and McNabb could stay healthy a little longer this year.

Pittsburgh – I love moving up to take Holmes – he was a big need and the best WR in the draft. Willie Reid should be a nice replacement for Randle-El in the slot and on kicks. In his third year, Roethlisberger should continue to improve as the passing game opens up with speed (see Boyer’s Draft analysis below). The Steelers passed on LenDale White which means the backfield is solely Parker’s (unless they pick up Duckett). Look for his numbers to improve from a very good rookie year now that he doesn’t lose carries to Bettis.

San Diego – SD did nicely w/ Cromartie, but I was surprised to see them only target one DB. They had the best run defense in the league last year and horrible pass D so this should be an upgrade to a fairly decent DST.

San Fransisco – Alex Smith picks up a top notch TE, 2WR’s and Penn State’s Michael Robinson – who was actually announced as a RB. Gore and Barlow are miserable and he could easily get some looks here but has no fantasy appeal. Smith, however could begin to make strides and develop into a viable NFL QB. Davis has the potential to be the next Antonio Gates and is worth a look in every league.

Seattle – not much to speak of here

St. Louis – they needed a TE but 2 in the first 3 rounds? Who do they think they are, the Patriots? The Cowboys? Not much to speak of here, either.

Tampa Bay – Gruden is gonna ride his Cadillac through holes opened up by Joseph and Trueblood. First two picks on O-linemen should keep young Chris Simms upright, as well – plus Stovall is a good pick here. Look for Simms and Williams to increase their production from last year. Alan Zemaitis is very solid and should step in for Kiffin right away and improve a good but aging DST.

Tennessee – LenDale White was at one time top ten talent and an absolute steal at #45. Now, the question is – does he become the Bettis to Brown’s Parker or the Duckett to Brown’s Dunn…or a featured back under Norm Chow? If he ends up starting, he could be a potential star here. Chris Brown’s fantasy value takes a big hit as he’s obviously now sharing a backfield. Travis Henry becomes the odd man out and holds no value any more. Don’t look to score points with Vince Young any time soon but the potential future star is definitely worth a pick in keeper leagues. Young signals the eventual departure of Steve McNair meaning Billy Volek will have the reins this year. The Titans pass attack was relatively unimpressive last year but as their 4 second year WR’s improve and with the acquisition of David Givens, Volek will be a decent but not spectacular fantasy starter.

Washington – Are they in the league any more? I couldn’t tell….


At 10:55 AM, Blogger Boyer said...

Good stuff Dan. Nice work.


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