Ridiculously Early Look at 2010 Fantasy Football First Round
In this past week's fantasy football tailgate (every Sunday from 10:30 AM ET to kickoff, come check it out!), someone asked us what we thought the first round would be for next season's drafts. Since we never want to disappoint, let's check it out. Here is one man's opinion on how the first round will shake out next year in standard scoring formats. This is using what we've seen thus far in 2009, plus what I expect to see the rest of the way. The first pick isn't really a secret, if you've been reading me the past two weeks.
1. Chris Johnson, RB, Titans - As I said, I haven't been secretive about this. He's gonna end up with 2,500 yards from scrimmage and close to 20 touchdowns this year. And he's only getting better.
2. Adrian Peterson, RB, Vikings - He actually trails MJD by just over one point per week right now, but I'm pushing forward with All Day based upon two factors. First of all, Peterson is going to have a monster second half as the Vikings cruise to the NFC North title. Secondly, MJD isn't going to have as easy a schedule next season.
3. Maurice Jones-Drew, RB, Jaguars - Don't mistake the above as knocking MJD, though. He's proven himself a fantasy monster this season now that he's freed from time-share duties. For the first time in a while, there will be a three-headed debate for the top overall pick in fantasy drafts. Really, it's tough to go wrong with any one of the three and having the third pick might be the most desirable draft position. Let the first two guys make your decision for you and get the better second rounder.
4. Ray Rice, RB, Ravens - Raise your hand if you thought Rice would be the fourth best running back in fantasy this year. Hell, he's still only owned in 90 percent of the fleaflicker leagues. I have to assume these are leagues where people quit paying attention, otherwise that's insanity. Expect Rice to continue piling up points and it will probably lead to Willis McGahee being cut from the competition next Spring -- further clearing the path for red zone touchdowns.
5. Steven Jackson, RB, Rams - He's currently 11th in running back points, but I'm expecting a few things here. As I pointed out in reality check (fourth bullet-point), SJax has tons in his favor moving forward. The Rams are improving, the run schedule is relatively soft and he always plays his best football in December. I'm expecting a gargantuan finish which will catapult him back into the top five in time for 2010 drafts.
6. DeAngelo Williams, RB, Panthers - Proving last year was no fluke and that there wasn't much need to fear the production Jonathan Stewart provides. Williams is their bell cow and as the running game goes, so go the Panthers. This is great news for Williams in terms of fantasy and he's a very safe pick in the middle of the first.
7. Frank Gore, RB, 49ers - He's as steady as they come -- only failing to reach more than 16.5 points one time when healthy (Week 7, his first coming off the injury). Getting that kind of consistency at the seven pick would be huge, and remember that the passing game will continue to take pressure off him as Vernon Davis and Michael Crabtree continue to blossom.
8. Michael Turner, RB, Falcons - The injury doesn't scare me. It's not the type of thing that will linger into next season. If anything, it may make him undervalued heading into next season. The one thing that would scare me is the inconsistency, but he's well worth this slot due to knowing you'll get several huge outings.
9. Randy Moss, WR, Patriots - Recently took over the top of the receiving points and the Pats don't have much resistance from here on out. He may be relatively shut down by Darrelle Revis (again) this coming week, but the stats will pile up thereafter.
10. Larry Fitzgerald, WR, Cardinals - Receivers as a group are generally inconsistent. It's part of playing a position where you rely on someone else to throw the ball to you. Fitzgerald, however, is as consistent as they come. His worst game this season was when he caught six passes for 66 yards.
11. Reggie Wayne, WR, Colts - Wayne wasn't a part of the vaunted "Big Four" receivers heading into drafts (Moss, Fitzgerald, Andre Johnson and Calvin Johnson). All he's done is outscore them all except Moss -- and he only trails him by 0.2. Wayne's had at least 12 points in seven of his nine games and more than 20 three times.
12. Andre Johnson, WR, Texans - He's currently sixth among wideouts in fantasy points, but he's battled through a chest injury and will mix in enough big games down the stretch -- as the Texans fight to make the playoffs -- to earn this spot.
One thing you'll surely flock to point out is the lack of quarterbacks. There's a reason for that. You only have to start one quarterback and the difference between the first and second tier of passers is just a couple points per week. On the flip side, there is a big drop off after the elite running backs to unreliable ones or ones in time-share situations. At wideout, there are five clear-cut elite options and a big drop thereafter.
(in alphabetical order, just for kicks)
Joseph Addai - He's working his way into first round discussion, but things are clouded by his reliance on touchdowns and Donald Brown's development.
Cedric Benson - Would be a first-rounder, if not for concerns about his workload. If that is curtailed, I'd consider him above one of the wideouts in the first.
Tom Brady - If I had to draft now, he'd be my top quarterback option -- but there are four more right on his tail.
Drew Brees - Weird to say, but he's actually been relatively disappointing this year in fantasy (how dare he and his team put winning above stats?). Still worth a very high pick in '10, though.
Ronnie Brown - He's barely more valuable than his teammate, but they run enough that both are studs.
Matt Forte - Since he's been a colossal bust in 2009, you can get him at great value next year. The Bears won't enter 2010 without doing significant work to the offensive line.
Vincent Jackson - Probably would have been in the first round had I done this last week. He's still a definite member of the Fab 5 at wideout.
Thomas Jones - He'd easily be a first-rounder if not for age (32 next year) and Shonn Greene's presence.
Peyton Manning - C'mon, like he should ever fall out of the second.
Rashard Mendenhall - Think Willie Parker in his prime without losing goal line carries.
Aaron Rodgers - He's the top scoring player in standard scoring fantasy leagues right now, but lack of position scarcity (14 of the top 18 entering Week 10 were quarterbacks) knocks him to the second round.
Matt Schaub - The only question before this season was his health. Check.
After that, I still see a few names lingering and they are mostly running backs. There's the aforementioned big drop off at wide receiver after the clear-cut top five and, again, there's a huge amoeba of nearly equally valued quarterbacks. You could probably get one in the fourth or even fifth round. Knowshon Moreno, Beanie Wells, Steve Slaton, Ryan Grant, Kevin Smith and Brandon Jacobs look to be great value here. Others like Ricky Williams, Pierre Thomas or Jonathan Stewart could end up being decent value picks in the fourth if you want a quarterback like Philip Rivers or Ben Roethlisberger instead of waiting on Jay Cutler or Donovan McNabb.
But you never know. We still have plenty of 2009 from which to draw conclusions.
Still, it's too much fun to not discuss, even nine months in advance.
How do you think things will shake out? Who do you like as first- or second-rounders? Let us know in the comments section.