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2008 NFL Draft Kit: Sleepers and Busts

August 5, 2008 | By Andy Goldstein | comment on this post

For our 2008 NFL Draft Kit, we’ve got a bunch of stuff planned to get y’all ready for the upcoming season. Without giving too much away, we’re going to get you the best customizable cheat sheets in the history of the world. But that will happen in a little bit. For now, here’s my list of sleepers and busts. One each per position. Enjoy.

QUARTERBACK

Sleeper Matt Leinart – Yes, we all know that Leinart might get two starts and then be yanked in favour of Kurt Warner. He might be ineffective and he’s had injury issues in his brief NFL career. I don’t care. Look at the upside! He has two uber talented wide outs to throw to, a lousy run game that won’t take away many yards or scores, and a team that will be in plenty of shootouts. Right now, Leinart’s ADP is after the tenth round. He is, on average, the 19th quarterback taken in drafts, and that may be entirely justified. Ahead of him are guys like Eli Manning and Jon Kitna. Leinart can outperform both by wide margins for a much lower price.

Bust Jay Cutler – Many prognosticators have been falling over themselves to call Cutler the next big thing at quarterback. He progressed well last season and developed a great rapport with studly wide out Brandon Marshall. But that’s kind of the problem. Marshall has already been suspended for two or three games (depending on behaviour) and he still has outstanding legal issues which could cause further suspensions. On top of this, Marshall tore his arm up in the offseason while wrestling with a sibling. Cutler has other options, namely tight end Tony Scheffler (the Scheff!) and the surprisingly still only 29 year old Darrell Jackson (sleeper alert!), but those two can’t combine to be the force that Marshall was. Cutler still shouldn’t be relied on as a starter, and I prefer my backups to have that potential.

RUNNING BACK

Sleeper Earnest Graham – Few times in my fantasy football prognostication career have I been as mystified about a certain player’s pre-season ranking as I have with Graham’s. Experts seem to be down on his ability to hold off Carnell Williams and Warrick Dunn for 20 carries a game. Say what? Williams has been resting on his laurels since Week Three of his rookie campaign. Dunn is 52 years old* and couldn’t quite reach that lofty goal of 3.3 yards per carry last season. Graham, meanwhile, was one of the top running backs in the league over the second half of the season. I had to emphasize that because I think everyone forgot about it. He’s falling to the fourth round in 12-team leagues and is being taken as the 20th-ranked back, which means you can take him in the third round and laugh and laugh and laugh.

* Age estimated from scientific evidence.

Bust Joseph Addai – This might seem silly, but when I take a guy in the first round of my fantasy draft, I want him to be the focal point of the offense. I want everything to be about him. Even mid-first rounders like Frank Gore, Tom Brady, Marshawn Lynch, and Clinton Portis are their respective offenses. Sure, secondary options like Addai can have success, but consistency becomes an issue. When Peyton Manning and the Colt passing offense is rolling, Addai can get lost in the shuffle. That, along with injuries (which might still be an issue if the silly Hall of Fame game means anything) conspired to give the Colt back nine games of sub-75 yards rushing. Addai is, at best, a late first rounder, which means he’ll never end up on my team.

WIDE RECEIVER

Sleeper Chris Chambers – Okay, okay, okay. I know. He’s been in the league for seven seasons and he’s had only one worthy fantasy season. But his best quarterback for six and a half years was Jay Fiedler. It’s really not his fault. In seven starts with Philip Rivers, Chambers averaged 63 yards per game and almost a half a score per game. Those aren’t all-world numbers, but extrapolate them over 16 games, and you’re looking at a 1,000-yard, eight-score season, which should be good enough to make him worth a second wide out spot.

Bust Wes Welker – Look, Welker is a nice enough wide out. He’s fast. He can find the soft spot in a zone, especially when no one even tries to cover him. But aren’t we getting a little carried away here? He’s the 13th wide out going off the board, which is absolutely nuts. He is still a slot receiver. Defenses will adapt to the Patriot passing strategies, which often left Welker alone over the middle of the field. There will be plenty of linebackers just waiting to give Welker a little payback. Last year was an awesome campaign for the diminutive wide out, but it was clearly a career season, so don’t expect many 100-yard games, don’t expect ten scores and definitely don’t expect 100 receptions.

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10 Responses to “2008 NFL Draft Kit: Sleepers and Busts”

  1. Cutlerfan says:

    Are you insane. Cutler is a great QB. Look at Cutler compared to the other 2006 QB’s.

    [IMG]http://i203.photobucket.com/albums/aa306/bassdb/2006QBclassstats.jpg[/IMG]

  2. Cutlerfan says:

    Second try.

    Please click on the URL to see a comparison between Jay and all of class of 2006. Thanks

    http://tinyurl.com/5km434

  3. Tom Highway says:

    Leinart is a bust.

    And forget about the “uber-talented” wide receivers elevating his game. To the contrary, Leinart has a history of lowering their games instead. Last season, in 5 starts, he completed 0 touchdowns to Larry Fitzgerald and only 1 to Anquan Boldin. He posted the lowest passer rating in the NFL (61.9) and averaged only 129 passing yards per game — also worst in the NFL.

    He averaged only 0.4 TD’s per game, and tossed 2 interceptions for every TD.

    Basically, Leinart has been exposed as lacking an NFL arm and an NFL brain — physical and mental shortcomings that were masked by a great surrounding college program at USC.

    And then there’s the issue with his fragile body… 2 season-ending injuries in his last 5 sacks! Can anyone say “Ryan Leaf”?

    I’d go with Kurt Warner as a double-top-secret sleeper pick, instead.

    After Matt Leinart was (thankfully) injured in 2007, Warner came in and threw 27 TD’s in only 11 starts — 21 in his final 8 games!

    He finished in the top-10 in passer rating, TD’s per game, yards per game, and most other QB categories. He got Fitzgerald on track with 10 TD’s and Boldin with 9, and sent Fitz to the Pro Bowl.

    When the “porcelain” Leinart is hurt again or benched, Warner would be a great fantasy QB option.

    The real question is: “Why is Arizona even considering starting that jaker when they have a great, proven QB on their roster in Kurt Warner?”

  4. Grady says:

    Enjoy your commentary on the up-coming “sleepers & bust”. As much as I enjoy Joseph Addai, I still don’t see him as a top 5 fantasy back either. I plan on taking him w/my 9th pick or 11th pick if he is there (depending on who else is on the board. Keep up the great work. Sincerely – Grady Glosson

  5. […] 2008 NFL Draft Kit: Sleepers and Busts by RotoRob […]

  6. AndyG says:

    @Cutlerfan – I think Cutler is a fine QB…so far the best of his class. But his value is inflated considering the lack of options in the passing game, pending Marshall’s level of insanity. If D-Jax steps up, then maybe, just maybe Cutler is worth that 11-15 QB ranking, but a sleeper TE and a nut job WR aren’t enough.

    @Tom – Leinart hasn’t acquitted himself well at all. That’s for sure. But he still hasn’t played a ton of games…in fact, week one will be only his 17th start. I am just saying that his VALUE is low enough that taking him as a sleeper candidate makes sense. His ceiling is easily into the top 10 and maybe as high as 5. Taking Warner as insurance is a good idea if teams have room…thanks for pointing that out!

    @Grady – Thanks for the kind words. I’ve gotten the impression that Addai’s value has been going up this preseason for whatever reason. Indeed, between the middle to late July, Addai was clocking in at an ADP of 5. In August, he’s jumped ahead of Westbrook to 4. It would seem we’re in the minority on this one.

  7. […] we continue to roll out the RotoRob 2008 NFL Draft Kit, Derek delivers his sleeper and bust picks. Andy already weighed in with his own sleepers and busts on Tuesday, an article that generated some debate. Do you guys agree with Derek’s picks? Let us […]

  8. Philadelphia says:

    I had Welker as a bust on my site as well, but definately disagree with Cutler…who I listed as a sleeper.

  9. @Philadelphia – Welker indeed seems like an obvious pick as a bust…I was blown away by the ADP.

    And again, if all things were equal with Cutler, I’d be okay putting him inside the top 10. But it isn’t because he needs Marshall to get to that “starter” ranking. That scares the hell out of me.

  10. phil says:

    worst fantasy advice ever….

    leinhart is already second string…cutler is the future…

    indy has always produced good rbs regardless if the pass is dominant…see: edgerin james

    graham i agree with

    chambers is alright but vincent jackson is a threat to break out too

    welker will get 100 receptions no problem…i think you forgot moss is lining up at the end…welker will be open enough

    enjoy your last place finish