We continue to roll out the RotoRob 2008 NFL Draft Kit, today with Andy weighing in with his own brand of enlightenment.
As is often the case, the value of players a few months ago (you know, when the magazines came out) have changed drastically since. Remember Frank Gore in 2006? Early in the preseason, he was a decent sleeper behind Kevan Barlow. Then Barlow was shipped out and, by most drafts, Gore was a bona fide Round Three player. Those that knew it probably did very well as Gore finished in the top five. That doesn’t happen every season, but there are always some value changers. Let’s look at three up and three down.
Quarterback Gainer – J.T. O’Sullivan: On the surface, being named the starting quarterback for a team that finished dead last in passing and points the previous season is, well, yawn-inducing. The difference this year is that O’Sullivan is running a Mike Martz offense. Martz has propelled Kurt Warner, Marc Bulger, and, most importantly, Jon Kitna to fantasy worthy seasons. Sure, the Rams were loaded with offensive talent, but the fact that Kitna turned into a 4,000-yard passer with one good wide out and nothing else, that’s what bodes well for O’Sullivan. So far in the preseason, he’s got a 91.9 quarterback ranking and is averaging and impressive 10.6 yards per attempt (Brady was at 8.3 last year). Yes, it’s the preseason, but if you’re in a deep league and can afford three quarterbacks, O’Sullivan is a great late round sleeper.
Quarterback Faller – Matt Hasselbeck: I approach this pick with trepidation. I’ve tried to put Hasselbeck out to pasture a couple times, and it always ends poorly for me. That being said, his already weak wide out corps took a big hit with Bobby Engram’s injury. That leaves Nate Burleson and an injured Deion Branch as the top options. The running game will still be weak and Hasselbeck is fighting a stiff back himself. If he finishes as a top 10 quarterback this season, I’ll never call him a bust ever again.
Running Back Gainer – Chris Johnson: It seems as though all of the rookie backs have shown some flashes this preseason, but Johnson has made more inroads to the starting position than any other freshman (other than Matt Forte, who has been given the starting job due to lack of competition). I’m convinced Johnson will start the season getting about 40 per cent of the touches in Tennessee. His game is much more dynamic than LenDale White’s so he’ll have every chance to take the torch and run with it. Really fast with it.
Running Back Faller – Jonathan Stewart: Before any pre-season games were played, the hype around Stewart was off the charts. He certainly wouldn’t have any problem wrestling away the starting job in Carolina. Well, not so fast. DeAngelo Williams has looked strong, averaging 5.1 yards per carry. Stewart, meanwhile, has been fighting injuries and inconsistency. He has managed only three yards on four carries, which is as not good as it sounds. Couple that with John Fox’s penchant for going with veterans and Stewart is nothing more than a handcuff for Williams.
Wide Receiver Gainer – Robert Meachem: When Meachem came into the league, some thought he would have the most NFL success of the wide outs in his draft class. That may not be true with Calvin Johnson and Dwayne Bowe establishing themselves as future studs, but Meachem will be a fantasy factor this season. He has 140 yards this preseason and has impressed his coaches. Yes, he’s the fourth option, at best, in New Orleans’ stacked offense, but that may not be a bad thing. The Saints had the most pass attempts in the league last season and Meachem will be facing single coverage all season. Right now, he’s a deep sleeper with a ton of upside.
Wide Receiver Faller – Joey Galloway: Injuries, injuries, and more injuries. Galloway has been “close to returning” all preseason, but it never seems to happen. The dude is kind of old, and I’m ready to call his career over. Sure, he’ll hang around and you’ll forget he’s still in the legue for a bit, but anyone who drafts him this season will be fairly upset about it in a few weeks.