Here we are again fantasy football freaks, the 2010 fantasy draft! I am going to lay out all the players you should have your eye on, all the ones you should divert your eyes from and all the ones that are flying under the radar in most other draft articles. First I am going to lay out some good things to know and then head right into the positional rankings, sleepers and busts. These rankings are based on a standard 12-team format with standard scoring options.
1: Don't reach. Running Backs are always the first to go because the position is so thin, but don't get nervous and draft a 2nd tier RB as your #1 back in the 1st round. If the best RBs' are gone, take a QB.
2: You shouldn't be looking at a WR until round 3. Too many managers will take a WR like Andre Johnson in the 1st round and that is just crazy. Look at your point set-up and you will see that it makes far more sense to take a RB and QB in rounds 1 and 2.
3: A good TE can be a fourth receiver. Guys like Antonio Gates and Jason Witten can produce as many fantasy points as a WR2. Other TEs' are hot and cold, so don't reach on anyone after Dallas Clark.
4: Defenses are only taken when your starters are set. You shouldn't be drafting a defense until your QB, WR, RB and TE is set… don't reach if someone else gets pick-happy and takes one early.
5: But, if a run starts, be ready to grab one. If someone does take a TE or Def early and a run starts on them, be ready to grab one with your next pick before all the good ones are taken.
6: One kicker is as good as another really. I don't take a kicker until the final rounds of the draft because they are all about the same really. If someone wants to take Garrett Hartley in round 8, that is their business. Don't follow suit even if a run starts… Matt Prater is just as good in fantasy terms.
1. Drew Brees: I could see Brees putting up between 4,600-4,700 passing yards and 30-plus touchdowns.
2. Aaron Rodgers: Peyton Manning has officially fallen out of the top 3 spots and Rodgers is a surprising #2 QB pick. Brees and Rodgers finished 1-2 among fantasy QBs last season and I see it happening again this season.
3. Tony Romo: Romo has Miles Austin and rookie Dez Bryant added to the arsenal, so there is no reason to think that he won't have a monster fantasy season.
4. Peyton Manning: Manning is officially without Marvin Harrison; and, while he has Reggie Wayne to throw to, I am not impressed by the other WRs at his disposal. Dallas Clark keeps him in the top 5, but his INTs are going to be in the mid-teens yet again.
5. Matt Schaub: If Schaub had a higher quality WR2, I would have put him ahead of Manning… but he doesn't and I didn't. I could see him throwing for say 4,550 yards and 25 TDs, but RB questions are present could hamper his production and an injury to Andre Johnson would be disastrous.
6. Jay Cutler: I have not been a fan of the Bears offense the last few seasons, but the addition of pass-crazy Mike Martz as the offensive coordinator means Cutler has probably the most upside of any QB in this year's draft.
7. Philip Rivers: Rivers has been a top-eight fantasy QB in three of the past four years, but coach Norv Turner runs a balances offense and that limits his passing opportunities. Add to that the fact that Vincent Jackson is threatening to hold out well into the season, and you have a very good reason to avoid Rivers on draft day.
8. Tom Brady: Brady is a full year removed from ACL surgery and year two goes smoother than year one in most cases. But, Wes Welker is out indefinitely and Randy Moss is 33-years-old and a big risk to see a sharp decline in skills/production. There is upside with Brady at #8, but there is also plenty of risk there too.
9. Kevin Kolb: Kolb is surrounded by DeSean Jackson, Jeremy Maclin, LeSean McCoy and Brent Celek, so it would take an epic meltdown for him not to finish in the top 10 for fantasy QBs. Many people are not buying into him as a legit QB1, but I think his weapons alone make him a solid guy to start.
10. Brett Favre: Favre could possibly end up in the top 5-7 QBs this season, but he lands at #10 for me because I simply do not know if he is going to play for sure or not. If he does confirm he will be back, bump him up to #6.
11. Matt Ryan: The Falcons look like they are going to use a heavy dose of Michael Turner this season once again, which means Matty-Ice has limited upside and is a buyer beware candidate.
12. Joe Flacco: The addition of Anquan Boldin means Flacco is a certified top 12 fantasy QB this season. I am going to bet on Flacco having a breakout season and someone you should consider having as your QB1.
13. Eli Manning: Manning set a career high for passing attempts last year, so his attempts should see a decline this year. Add to that the fact that RBs Brandon Jacobs and Ahmad Bradshaw are healthy and Andre Brown is still on the roster and you should draft Manning with your eyes wide open.
14. Donovan McNabb: McNabb suffers with the downgrade to the Redskins and he is a red-light injury risk behind the Skins' shaky offensive line. Not to mention that DeSean Jackson to Santana Moss is a big drop-off.
15. Ben Roethlisberger: Big Ben will be back by Week 6 (Steelers has a Week 5 bye), and his starting job will be waiting for him no matter how well the other QBs play. Still, four missed games bump him from the QB1 ranks and the only reason he is in the top-15 is because the next best option is Matthew Stafford. Big Ben is an ideal QB2 pick in fantasy drafts.
1. Chris Johnson: Johnson is an easy pick for the #1 overall fantasy pick and I don't see his holdout as a cause for concern.
2. Maurice Jones-Drew: MJD is going to be #3 in a lot of rankings, but I don't like Adrian Peterson as much as him anymore. You have a sure-fire bet in MJD and I would take him ahead of Peterson if I had the choice.
3. Adrian Peterson: Peterson will likely see more passes with Chester Taylor out of the picture, but the Vikings have done nothing to upgrade an offensive line that struggles down the stretch. You also have to consider that Favre is likely back for another season and he will be playing for his ride into the sunset… AP is a top 3 back still, but #3.
4. Frank Gore: Gore finished last season with top-5 fantasy RB numbers and he is likely to do it again. He could push for the touchdown lead among RBs and he is the focal point of the Niners offense.
5. Ray Rice: The bad news for Rice is that he won't see as many dump-off passes with the addition of Boldin; on the bright side, defenses won't be able to key in on the running game and Willis McGahee won't be vulturing touchdowns from Rice anymore.
6. Michael Turner: The Falcons are wanting to keep Turner's carries under 300 this season and I could see him reaching 1,400-plus yards and 15 TDs. His red flag is for those in PPR leagues because he won't catch more than 10-15 passes all season long.
7. Steven Jackson: S-Jax hasn't played a full season since 2006 and he is always a huge injury risk, but he has the talent to rack up 1,400 rushing yards, 50-plus receptions and 8-10 TDs.
8. Rashard Mendenhall: With Big Ben out for the first four games of the season the Steelers are going to rely on Mendenhall early and often. His production is going to drop off a bit in the second half of the season, but I still like him as a solid RB1.
9. Jamaal Charles: The main problem with Charles is Thomas Jones, but Charles has too much talent to not get the nod over an aging RB like Jones. Jones will likely steal goal-line chances, but the Chiefs passing game is shaky at best.
10. Ryan Matthews: Matthews is the next coming of LaDainian Tomlinson and Coach Norv Turner is projecting 250 carries and 40 receptions for the rookie this season. I am putting my money on Matthews to win the offensive ROY award this season.
11. DeAngelo Williams/Jonathan Stewart: Stewart finished last season strong and many around the Panthers believe the split will be closer to 50-50 this season. But, as the old adage goes, "when you have two running backs, you don't have ONE running back." If you take one, you better have the other as a handcuff. And, if you don't think you can get the handcuff, it is better to avoid either all together.
12. Shonn Greene: Greene is now the man in the Jets backfield and he had an impressive 20 broken tackles in just over 100 attempts last year. I envision Greene finishing with 1,200-plus yards and 12 TDs when all is said and done.
13. Cedric Benson: Benson was the surprise fantasy sleeper last year and he enters this season with no competition for carries as Bernard Scott is the clear back-up in Cincinnati. Benson is entering a contract year, so expect another career year from him in 2010.
14. Beanie Wells: Wells is going to see an increased workload now that Kurt Warner has retired. Coach Ken Whisenhunt also wants to see more of a balanced offensive scheme, but Wells will be spelled by Tim Hightower on passing downs so he will remain a high-end RB2 this season.
15. Ryan Grant: I am not a fan of Grants because his receiving numbers are near flatline in a high scoring offense. But, I also can't ignore the fact that he had back-to-back 1,200 yard seasons and he should be in line for another 10-plus TD season in 2010.
1. Andre Johnson: I never… NEVER take a WR in the first round of a draft, but Johnson has me thinking about it this season. With back-to-back 1,500 yard seasons I think Johnson is in line for more of the same and maybe even a slight bump in TDs if the wind blows right for him. I wouldn't take him unless I was at the tail end of the first round, but pairing him with Ryan Matthews would be golden.
2. Calvin Johnson: The Lions drafted a future RB in Javad Best, but their best talent is in the passing game. Johnson is teamed up with Nate Burleson, Bryant Johnson and Brandon Pettigrew, which means Johnson should finish as a top fantasy WR.
3. Larry Fitzgerald: Fitzgerald loses Warner and that means he is no longer a top two fantasy WR, but he shouldn't go any lower than #3. I envision 1,300 yards and 10 TDs from him this season, but that number depends on the progression of Matt Leinart.
4. Randy Moss: The thing I don't like about Moss is that he is an all or nothing for yardage, but he is fairly consistent with the touchdown production. His age is a concern for me, but I think he has at least one more season in the tank.
5. Miles Austin: I called Austin as a sleeper last season, but I never would have thought he would enter the following season as a top 5 fantasy WR. Dez Bryant will take a lot of the double coverage away from Austin and the Cowboys look poised to become a pass-first offense this season.
6. Roddy White: As I stated earlier, the Falcons plan to limit Turner's production and that means White should see a bump in value. I don't mind taking White as a 2nd tier WR, but be sure you don't reach on him.
7. Reggie Wayne: Wayne should get some help from an improved running game, but that also means he will see fewer passing attempts. Wayne is a safe pick at WR, but he could fall closer to the bottom end of the top 10 when the season is over.
8. DeSean Jackson: Jackson is still in the same electric offense, and now he doesn't have to deal with an injury-prone McNabb at the helm. Jackson could easily put up 100-plus yards on any given day, but the Eagles are talking about spreading the ball around and that leaves Jackson in the bottom end of the top 10.
9. Brandon Marshall: Marshall goes from the Broncos to the Dolphins and I actually think the move is good for him. I don't think he will eclipse 100 catches this season, but he should come close and the Dolphins are in need of a stud WR like Marshall.
10. Sidney Rice: This ranking is based on the idea that Favre is coming back. If Favre is back I like Rice to creep into the 5-7 range with his Randy Moss-like skillset.
11. Vincent Jackson: I love V-Jax, but he is likely to miss games for a multitude of reasons, so his #11 ranking is a direct reflection of that. When he does play he is a WR1 for sure, but that is WHEN he plays.
12. Steve Smith (CAR): I remember when Smith was a top 5 fantasy WR, but a new QB and RBBC has me avoiding Smith on draft day. The fact still remains that Smith is all the Panthers have in way of receivers so his targets will remain high, but I will be curious to see how his fractured arm effects his performance this season.
13. Marques Colston: Colston is in the highest rated offense in the NFL, but the Saints have other options in the passing game and that drops Colston into the 13-15 range for WRs.
14. Greg Jennings: The Packers have improved their pass protection and that means Jennings will get more deep looks. I don't think he can break the double-digit mark for TDs, but 1,200-plus yards and 7-8 TDs is realistic.
15. Anquan Boldin: Boldin and Flacco make the perfect couple for fantasy owners, but I don't think he will regain his early-career value. I like him as a high-end WR2, but someone is going to take him as their WR1 when they don't read this and they reach.
1. Antonio Gates: Gates is easily the #1 fantasy TE and his foot problems are not a concern for me. I could see him with 975-1000 yards and 8-10 TDs.
2. Jason Witten: I think the addition of Bryant opens up the passing game for everyone, and Witten should regain his fantasy value from a few seasons ago. Witten is the other 1000-plus yard TE in my rankings, but he won't break the 10 TD mark either.
3. Jermichael Finley: Finley is the lucky recipient of Aaron Rodgers as his QB and his 38-416-4 line (receptions-yards-TDs) in the final seven games projects to 87-951-10 over a full season.
4. Dallas Clark: Clark is always a top 5 threat and Anthony Gonzales' return gives Manning another option and opens room for Clark. Clark is as meat-and-potatoes as a player gets in fantasy terms.
5. Vernon Davis: Davis has probably the most talent of anyone in the NFL, but the Niners have QB questions and that is what keeps him at the bottom end of the top 5. Davis ia a great red-zone threat, but I don't see him to match or exceed last year's numbers.
6. Tony Gonzalez: Every year people say how Gonzo is going to slow down and every year they are wrong. I could see him racking up 800 yards and eight touchdowns this season if the passing game holds up.
7. Brent Celek: Losing McNabb would normally be a bad thing for most players on the receiving end of passes, but Kolb looks capable of handing the QB duties. There is some risk here since Kolb is largely unproven over a full season, but I like Celek as a solid 2nd tier TE.
8. Zach Miller: Miller finally has a real QB at the helm in Jason Campbell, so there are no excuses for him not to finish as a top 10 fantasy TE. There are real question marks when it comes to the Raiders offense, but Miller is one of the people I have faith in on the team.
9. Kellen Winslow: Winslow is not the TE we all expected him to be and there are some injury risks that come along with drafting him. But, he has played 16 games in three of the past four seasons and the Buccs need Winslow to be an important part of the passing game with little to no reliable or proven talent around him.
10. John Carlson: The main drawback to Carlson is an aging Matt Hasselbeck. The Seahawks did bring in Coach Pete Carroll to take over for Jim Mora and former Broncos coordinator Jeremy Bates was also brought in to lead the offense. Calling T.J. Houshmandzadeh a bust is an understatement, so Carlson is the safest bet if you must have a Seahawk on your roster.
11. Owen Daniels: I am skeptical of Daniels since he is coming off an ACL injury, but he has the talent and the QB to back up this ranking if he enters the season right. Daniels is the true definition of risk versus reward.
12. Chris Cooley: Cooley finally has a real QB to throw to him and word is that coordinator Kyle Shanahan plans to feature the TE in the passing game. Fred Davis is still with the Redskins, so Cooley is a low end TE1 at best.
1. Philadelphia Eagles Defense: Asante Samuel is one of the biggest gamblers when it comes to play-making in the NFL. With that risk comes his 29 interceptions over the past four seasons. Trent Cole is the best pass rusher you've never heard of, amassing 47 sacks in his first five seasons and first-round pick Brandon Graham may eventually become the starter at left end, but he's a rotational rusher for now.
2. Green Bay Packers Defense: OLB Brad Jones is someone the Packers want to see step up and become a star, but he was less than outstanding as a rookie. Clay Matthews on the other hand racked up 10 sacks and Charles Woodson is still playing well enough to win the Defensive Player of the Year award.
3. New York Jets Defense: Darrelle Revis is the one corner that nobody in the NFL wants to face and that causes passing offenses to be essentially shut down. You would think Revis' IDP value would be higher, but opposing QBs avoid him on the field and that means he is actually not worth drafting. David Harris will lead the team in tackles and should be looked at in IDP leagues.
4. Minnesota Vikings Defense: The Williams Wall is still holding down the D-Line for the Vikings and Antione Winfield keeps the WRs in check. Jared Allen is a beast and continues to get better and better each season. The Vikings are a run-stopping machine that can also rack up the sacks.
5. Dallas Cowboys Defense: If Bradie James could just rush the QB he would be a great draft choice in IDP leagues. DeMarcus Ware hasn't missed a game in his five-year career and has averaged just over 14 sacks a season in that same time span. Mike Jenkins is the Cowboys' top corner, while Terence Newman is turning 32-years-old this season.
6. Baltimore Ravens Defense: Ray Lewis is not what he used to be, but he is still putting up top 15 IDP numbers and that counts for something. Terrell Suggs is going to bounce back and put up 10-12 sacks this season… you heard it here first. Ed Reed is coming off hip surgery, but I think he may have a little left in the tank.
7. New Orleans Saints Defense: Jonathan Vilma is the leader on defense and should actually do a bit better with Scott Fujita out of the picture. Will Smith can put up double-digit sack totals again this season and is a fine IDP player to own.
8. San Francisco 49ers Defense: Patrick Willis is the man to own in IDP leagues and should go #1 for defensive players in any format. The strong safety battle between Michael Lewis and Taylor Mays will result in someone being a target early on in the IDP draft.
9. New York Giants Defense: The Giants' constant rotation along the defensive line limits the upside of talented sack artists like Justin Tuck and Mathias Kiwanuka. Not to mention that the middle linebacker competition features Jonathan Goff, Chase Blackburn and rookie Phillip Dillard… none are studs.
10. Pittsburgh Steelers Defense: Edge rushers James Harrison and LaMarr Woodley both recorded double-digit sacks for the second straight year and inside linebacker Lawrence Timmons showed plenty of play-making ability with seven sacks and four forced fumbles. Troy Polamalu returns to full health after missing 11 games with knee injuries last year, so the Steelers will return to a top 10 fantasy defense this season.
11. Arizona Cardinals Defense: Gerald Hayes gets a boost in IDP value with the departure of Dansby. Darnell Dockett and Calais Campbell are consistent producers and strong safety Adrian Wilson is a brutal hitter and finished with five interceptions last season.
12. Chicago Bears Defense: I avoid Brian Urlacher at this point because he is as injury prone as any player in the NFL these days. Julius Peppers found his way to Chicago and could emerge as a top IDP pick if he can settle into a routine on the D-Line and Lance Briggs is a good bet to see 85-90 tackles this season. There are CB concerns, but the line and linebackers are where IDP players will want to focus.