Ten players I love more than you
Last year, the Big Noise had an unrepeatable season of fearless forecasting. Tabbing undervalued commodities DeAngelo Williams(notes), Steve Slaton(notes) and Eddie Royal(notes), to name a few, as breakthrough players, he steered numerous owners in the right direction. What players are doing backstrokes in his pool of hyperbole in ’09?
Here are the Noise’s 10 players that he loves more than you …
Pierre Thomas(notes) – Lambasted for selecting the PT Cruiser before Tom Brady in Round 2 of our Y! Mock Draft in early May, the Noise’s passions for Thomas are well-documented. Fifteen pounds bulkier, significantly stronger and hungry to show the organization there’s no need to employ another inside power complement to Reggie Bush(notes), the former Illinois standout is poised to yield a Round 1 value at a Round 2-3 cost.
Rashard Mendenhall(notes) – Fully recovered from a premature burial by Ray Lewis(notes) in Week 4, Rush-hard is expected to work heavily during the exhibition season. With Willie Parker(notes) inching closer to 30 and in a contract year, the Steely McBeam staff is anxious for Mendenhall to take a major developmental leap. He’ll likely tote 25-30 percent of the workload initially, with an emphasis on short-yardage situations (read: goal line).
LeSean McCoy(notes) – The real Slim Shady is about to stand up. Brian Westbrook’s(notes) advanced age and injury concerns could make the rookie this year’s Steve Slaton. Blessed with tremendous all-around talents, his tacky hands, elusiveness and home-run hitting ability mesh nicely with Andy Reid’s West Coast scheme. Inevitably, he’ll net 2-3 starts this season.
Roy Williams – With T.O. spicing things up in the Wing City, Williams will finally regain a fair level of fantasy respectability. His surprisingly unselfish approach this offseason has been refreshing. Also expected to attract 120-plus targets, he should garner profitable No. 2 numbers in any-sized format. A return to his 2006 level of production is certainly possible.
Felix Jones(notes) – The former Razorback has excellent odds of going hog wild in his second season. The anticipated shift of Marion Barber(notes) back into the closer’s role boosts Jones’ opportunity for touches. His electric speed, sticky fingers and game-breaking talents will be utilized a minimum of 10-15 times per game. Keep in mind that before being sidelined by a toe injury, he averaged a ridiculous 8.9 yards per carry last year.
Eddie Royal – The Duke of Denver is primed to reprise the Wes Welker(notes) role in Josh McDaniels’ high-powered offense. Slippery and savvy, Royal’s heady route-running skills and fleet-feet should thrive, even with Kyle Orton(notes) or Chris Simms(notes) behind center. In PPR leagues, you won’t find a better bargain after Round 4.
Matt Ryan(notes) – Sophomore slumps are nonexistent in Matty Ice’s world. The addition of dependable weapon Tony Gonzalez(notes) to an offense with a standout running game, laudable offensive line and solid vertical threats greatly enhance Ryan’s chances of increased production in Year 2. Most will consider him a borderline starter in 12-team leagues, but he’ll undoubtedly finish in the top 10 at his position.
Donald Brown(notes) – Considering Joseph Addai(notes) would likely get injured in a dust up with Adam Vinatieri(notes), the rookie from UConn is a prime Rip Van Winkle. Not particularly outstanding in any one category, Brown is a well-rounded back who can handle the rigors of a full-time gig if necessary. Addai enters camp as the unquestioned starter, but the youngster will likely compile 10-15 touches per game initially. Similar to McCoy, he has favorable odds of totaling a minimum of two starts.
Greg Olsen(notes) – In his third season, the He-Man look-a-like will finally showcase the Power of Grayskull. The unreliability of the Bears’ ragtag wide receiver corps could launch Olsen into the tight end top five. His plus speed, trustworthy mitts and improving route skills should help build an instant rapport with Jay Cutler(notes). A 70-800-8 season is definitely attainable.
Rashad Jennings(notes) – Slipping to into the Mr. Irrelevant round of the NFL draft, the bulldozing product from Liberty was arguably one of the finest steals. Burly and bruising, Jennings, who was given the full Noise sponge bath last December, could eventually supplant Greg Jones(notes) as the primary option behind Maurice Jones-Drew(notes). If the Oompah Loompah shows signs of tiring or succumbs to a major injury, the rookie could take on the appearance of Samkon Gado(notes) ’04.