September 06, 2010
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mancrush (n.) – an intense, platonic infatuation for a distinguished or, more often, uncelebrated fantasy sports commodity.
As a purveyor of the mantastic, we're fully aware of its potential consequences. Those who've drooled over and therefore outstretched arms to acquire high upside producers can empathize. Severed tendons, unbearable 'Ls', lopsided trades and, worst of all, leaguemate mockery are common results for optimistic gamblers who don't exercise objectivity.
Over the years, these obsessions have caused us to run the emotional gamut. Some exaggerated prognostications have yielded positive results (e.g. Aaron Rodgers(notes) in 2008). While other forecasts have led to endless reader ridicule and weeks of liquid therapy (e.g. Pierre Thomas(notes) last year).
Not swayed by our painfully mediocre track-record, we're confident this year's class of under-drafted fantasy darlings will live up to the hype. Consider our ninth-most accurate reputation staked.
The Noise presents to you the 2010 All-Mancrush team:
Coming off one of the worst rookie seasons by a quarterback in NFL history doesn't bode well for the former No. 1 pick on the surface. However, significant growth should be expected. With Megatron (Calvin Johnson(notes)) primed to pummel Autobots and new toys Jahvid Best(notes) and Nate Burleson(notes) in tow, Stafford has the weapons to make a giant leap forward. He also has the tools - strong arm, growing accuracy, scrambling ability and toughness. The tender-faced passer must improve on coverage reads and learn not to force square pegs into round circles (20 INTs in 10 games a year ago), but a Peyton-like transformation in year two isn’t unthinkable. Detroit’s favorable schedule Weeks 12-15 (NE, CHI, GB, at TB) only adds to the warm feelings. Occasional turbulence is in the forecast but his 124.3 ADP (WR17) will be greatly exceeded.
Investors who sunk top-five coin in Forte last year suffered from an incurable case of the fantasy blues. A nagging knee injury and transparent offensive line severely hindered his overall production (3.6 ypc). For PPR players, his 57 receptions, the third-most among RBs in the league, was the only silver lining. This season he should regain owner confidence. Finally healthy, the workhorse’s explosiveness appears to be back, evident in his 89-yard TD sprint against Oakland two weeks ago (Watch here). Mike Martz’s pass-first scheme, the presence of Chester Taylor(notes) and ongoing trench concerns may not pump the juices, but he remains an exceptional buy in a bearish market (41.7 ADP). His multidimensional abilities will thrive in Chicago’s newly installed system. More Polar than Paddington, Forte breaks out the claws again in 2010.
Fearless Forecast (15 games): 227 carries, 976 rushing yards, 66 receptions, 534 receiving yards, 8 total touchdowns
Jahvid Best, Det, RB (Noise RB Rank: 12)
Only one letter shy of being a BeAst, the electric rookie from Cal is the “Shotgun” of Motown. Explosive, ultra-versatile and expected to tote a heftier workload than originally anticipated, he will turn a massive Ray Rice(notes)-esque profit. Worries over fragility – he suffered from myriad setbacks in college – are legitimate, but Adrian Peterson also entered the league with durability concerns. The Lions’ improvements across the board, particularly on defense, should keep more games within reach, meaning the running game won’t be abandoned as often. Even in lopsided contests Best, a spectacular receiver, will eat up large chunks of yards in garbage time. In preseason play, he saw action in the slot and out wide. Move over Marshawn, only Jahvid possesses a “Beast Mode” setting.
Fearless Forecast (15 games): 238 carries, 1,095 rushing yards, 48 receptions, 394 receiving yards, 9 total touchdowns
Mike Williams, Sea, WR (Noise WR Rank: 27)
This time a season ago Williams was pounding Friendly’s Grilled Cheese BurgerMelts, not the opposition. Down 40-bills, one of Matt Millen’s biggest blunders looks lean, mean and poised to burst onto the fantasy scene, a laughable suggestion just four weeks ago. T.J. Houshmandzadeh’s(notes) release over the holiday weekend immediately elevated the former top-10 pick into the catbird seat. John Carlson(notes) and Deion Branch(notes) will still play viable roles within the Seahawks offense, but Williams looks to be option No. 1. Given his oversized 6-foot-5 frame, adequate speed and determined attitude, he may finally silence critics. Keep in mind he’s still only 24-years-old. Pete Carroll will have difficulties making the ‘Hawks respectable as a whole, but with Matt Hasselbeck(notes) healthy Williams should finally relish success at the NFL level. As the main option in the red zone, he could easily reach WR2 status in 12-team leagues.
Fearless Forecast (16 games): 73 receptions, 1,013 receiving yards, 8 touchdowns
Mike Williams, TB, WR (Noise WR Rank: 32)
When we first tabbed Williams a hidden treasure in early August close-minded readers classified the piece as “garbage” and a “complete waste of time.” Hopefully their perceptions have changed. Second-round pick Arrelious Benn(notes) entered Bucs camp with higher fantasy expectations, but the fourth-rounder seized the moment. Slipping in the draft largely due to character issues, the rookie from Syracuse has shown an impressive work ethic and skill set. His combination of size, speed and athleticism could propel the receiver to a profitable campaign comparable to Michael Clayton’s(notes) in 2004. Josh Freeman(notes) is still in the developmental phase as a passer – he hit more opponent jerseys than his own in 2009 (10:18 TD:INT split) – but he definitely has the pedigree to build on his experiences. Because Tampa will be thrust into several passing situations, Williams will be a difference-making WR3 in 12-team and deeper leagues.
Fearless Forecast (16 games): 68 receptions, 1,087 receiving yards, 6 touchdowns
Zach Miller, Oak, TE (Noise TE Rank: 9)
Heroic best describes Miller’s 2009 season. What he accomplished with Bruce Gradkowski(notes), Charlie Frye(notes) and the Purple Drank (JaMarcus Russell(notes)) taking snaps was truly remarkable. His 66-catch, 805-yard and three-TD campaign was the 12th-most valuable among tight ends. With more competent QB Jason Campbell(notes) behind center, improvement across the board is an inevitable conclusion. As the Mercury News reported last week, Miller and Campbell have established a “flourishing relationship” this preseason according to Tom Cable. The former ‘Skins' prior chemistry with Chris Cooley(notes) is clear evidence of Miller’s potential impact. An effort similar to Cooley’s 2007 (66-786-8) is realistic. Remember, the Raiders’ very green receiver corps is sans Chaz Schilens(notes) for at least the first couple weeks. Miller will be Campbell’s most trustworthy vertical weapon. In a ridiculously deep tight end class, the discounted commodity could turn the position’s biggest profit (105.8 ADP).
Fearless Forecast (16 games): 76 receptions, 950 receiving yards, 7 total touchdowns
MOST VALUABLE CRUSH
Not shocking to any regular Arcade reader, the fast-rising Foster is the indisputable apple of our eye. We would climb Houston's tallest building not by elevator or stairs, but with suction cups to profess our love for the former practice-squader. Seriously, what’s not to like? Arguments about his uninspiring pedigree are rickety at best. Situation often trumps skill. Look at what Priest Holmes(notes), an undrafted product from Texas, achieved in his career. Simply, Foster is the right man in the right place at the right time. His multipurpose talents, determination and incontestable featured role in a powerful offense will launch him into the fantasy stratosphere. The Texans’ sensational offensive line only enhances his value. Naysayers will point to Foster’s limited history and Gary Kubiak’s well-known treachery as reasons why he’ll bust, but they’re simply ignorant of the truth. Call it bold. Call it dumb. Call it maniacal. Houston’s workhorse finishes 2010 as a top 10 running back.
Fearless Forecast (16 games): 273 attempts, 1,228 rushing yards, 31 receptions, 236 receiving yards, 12 total touchdowns
Images courtesy of US Presswire