One of my favorite aspects of fantasy football is that it enables fans to broaden their knowledge of the players that make the sport what it is. We all have our favorite team (or teams) which we follow attentively, but fantasy football provides an opportunity for fans to learn about and support players on the 31 other teams that fill out the NFL, as good or bad as those teams may be.
For most of you fantasy football enthusiasts, this time of year plays a major role in the outcome of the next 4-5 months of your lives. That's right, it's draft season and that means you'll soon be tied to a set of athletes, each of whom you'll know inside and out, will support, and in some cases may curse at during the course of play (hoping that your emotional outburst will somehow reach that player on a telepathic level and motivate him to tear apart opposing defenses and SCORE YOU POINTS). Of course, there is always the possibility of swinging a mid-season trade or acquiring a hidden gem in free agency in order to improve your roster, but for the most part, your success (and emotional stability in the case of the most devout owners) this football season will depend on your ability to identify the most talented players and create value in each pick you make during your draft(s). The point of the next few posts is not to single out the best player on each team, but rather to distinguish a player from each team that is most valuable at his average draft position (ADP). Let's start in the AFC West.
Philip Rivers, QB, San Diego Chargers:
Rivers exploded onto fantasy radars last season, posting career highs in every statistical category except interceptions (he threw 11, 2 more than his 9 in 2006). With returning weapons like LaDainian Tomlinson
, Antonio Gates, and Vincent Jackson, Rivers is ready to build upon last year's numbers and please the owners that take him in the mid-to-late fourth round. He's unlikely to outperform the likes of Brees
, Brady, and Peyton Manning (all of whom should be gone by the middle of round 3), but he'll post good enough numbers to warrant selection as the fourth overall quarterback. Waiting to take Rivers in the fourth round also enables you to focus your first three picks on the best available RBs
the owners of Brees
, Brady, and Manning will not have--while still securing an elite QB.
Darren McFadden, RB, Oakland Raiders:
Mark my words, DMC
will be a first round draft pick in 2010 fantasy football drafts. While the Raider offense is not the sexiest, the Silver and Black do love to run the football and McFadden will lead the team's backs in touches. Due to his ability to catch the football, McFadden is especially valuable in points-per-reception leagues, but I'd take him in any format, really. Those who select him in the 4th
round are getting one of the best bargains in the early stages of the draft as he'll provide 3rd (maybe even 2nd
) round value at an ever thinning position.
Eddie Royal, WR, Denver Broncos:
The hype on Knowshon
Moreno has caused his ADP to rise over the past month, making him more of a risky pick than a value pick in my opinion. Royal, however, can be found in the late 4th
round to early 5th
round and has the potential, with Brandon Marshall starting opposite him, to build upon a monster rookie season. Unless the team trades Marshall before the season (unlikely now that camps have closed and teams are just about settled with the guys they've got) Coach Josh McDaniels
will be forced to start him, preventing opposing defenses from double teaming Royal. I'm buying the Royal to Welker
comparisons and like what the 2nd
year receiver brings to the table in PPR leagues. In non-PPR leagues, his value is much lower as he's not much of a redzone
threat, but there's no doubt in my mind that he'll post 1,000+ yards this season. Go ahead and thank the other owners in your league if he falls to you early in the 5th
round, but don't be afraid to take him in the mid-to-late 4th
round...in PPR leagues that is.
Dwayne Bowe, WR, Kansas City Chiefs:
There's not much to be excited about offensively in Kansas City, but Dwayne Bowe
is the exception. After an impressive rookie season in which he caught 70 balls for 995 yards and 5 touchdowns, Bowe
recorded 86 receptions for 1022 yards and 7 TDs
in 2008 (and that was with a pretty mediocre quarterback). The Chiefs brought in QB Matt Cassell
from New England and coach Todd Haley from Arizona this off-season, which should mean great things for Bowe
, who's currently being taken in the middle of the 3rd round in drafts. Now that Tony Gonzales is in Atlanta, Bowe
will be the go-to guy in the Chiefs redzone
offensive package and I fully expect him to have his first season with double-digit touchdowns, and perhaps 100 receptions.
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