The NFL regular season is over, but that doesn’t mean you need to stop playing fantasy football this season. Playoff leagues are forming everywhere, even good friend of the site and RookieBlitz.com contributor John Gustafson from FantasyLion.com is running his own challenge. The format I’ve chosen for these player rankings is for a survivor style, with the players I expect to play more games ranked higher than some of their counterparts. One name that will appear lower than his regular season finish is Saints quarterback Drew Brees. I don’t like New Orleans’ chances of advancing to the NFC Championship Game; therefore, there are other quarterbacks I’d rather have that will present more value for your playoff squad. Without further adieu, here are the rankings:
Happy Holidays from the staff of RookieBlitz.com!
Our weekly feature will take a look at the Week 16 matchups and evaluate what players should see an increase or decrease in value in the Championship Game Week of the fantasy football playoffs.
Jerome Harrison – Cleveland Browns
The general consensus is that Head Coach Eric Mangini will continue to befuddle fantasy football owners with his tailback rotation with Jerome Harrison and Chris Jennings. This comes one week after Harrison broke Jim Brown’s team rushing record with 34 carries for 286 yards and 3 touchdowns and added another 2 receptions for 12 yards for good measure. There is no doubt that Harrison has the talent to play in the NFL, he just have never gotten a consistent shot at playing time. Mangini won’t be a fool, he’ll continue to give Harrison the lion’s share of the carries and against the Raiders 28th ranked rush defense. Harrison should top 100 yards rushing on the day and have a great chance of scoring a touchdown, don’t hesitate and get him in your lineup this week.
Beanie Wells – Arizona Cardinals
We’ve been high on Beanie Wells all season and it’s time he started paying dividends on his crazy good playoff schedule. After a subpar team performance against Detroit, Coach Whisenhunt has indicated the Cardinals will play to win the final 2 games despite already clinching the NFC West. This is great news for Wells; he is an excellent high-end RB2 this week against the 27th ranked Rams rush defense (140.8 YPG). Brandon LaClair covered most of the basics on Wells earlier this week here; there is little doubt Wells will be vital to a lot of championships this weekend.
Ladell Betts. Ron Dayne. Pierre Thomas. Michael Bush.
If these names look familiar, they led many fantasy football owners to league titles the past few seasons. The thing that they all have in common is they were all late season waiver wire additions that paid off in a huge way.
I’ve looked ahead at every NFL team’s schedule for the remainder of the season and found these backup running backs that could join that illustrious list of fantasy football playoff studs.
If any of these players are on waivers in your league, pick them up immediately. If some of these players aren’t available on the waiver wire, you should be able to acquire them for very little prior to your league trade deadline. I’ve listed all their matchups from Week 10 to Week 16 to also show some great matchups leading up to your playoffs. For some owners on the cusp of making the playoffs, a few of these players could give them an edge in a key matchup to be in position to worry about whom to start in the fantasy football playoffs (Weeks 14, 15 and 16 in many league formats).
Without further adieu, here are the best backup running backs the remainder of the season that should be available in many fantasy football leagues. Each player is ranked in order based on talent, opportunity, and remaining playoff schedule.
Beanie Wells – Arizona (Owned in 64.9% of Leagues)
SEA, @STL, @TEN, MIN, @SF, @DET, STL
Beanie Wells has the easiest remaining schedule out of all of these running backs. Wells has some great matchups versus Seattle, St. Louis and Tennessee leading up to his playoff run. In the fantasy football playoffs he will feast on San Francisco, Detroit and finally the Rams in Week 16. Wells can be had very cheap right because the perception is the Cardinals cannot run the ball effectively. Wells has averaged over 5 yards per carry his past few games, and it is only a matter of time before he relegates Tim Hightower to a third down option with Hightower’s fantastic hands out of the backfield. Wells must learn to pick up the blitz better to increase his playing time, and he has struggled to do so early this season. All of these players listed are lottery tickets, but if this one hits they payoff will be greater than any of the other backup running backs I’ve listed here. Wells will be a key contributor to many championship winning teams as a RB2 or strong flex option down the stretch.
Mike Bell – Saints (Owned in 67.3% of Leagues)
@STL, @TB, NE, @WAS, @ATL, DAL, TB
Mike Bell has seen his play slip in recent weeks as Pierre Thomas has been surging ahead of him. If the Thomas owner in your league does not also have Bell on their roster, grab him now while you can. The Saints only have three potential tough games the remainder of the season against New England, Atlanta, and Dallas. New Orleans draws the Buccaneers twice, St. Louis and Washington so Bell is worth owning in any league format. Pierre Thomas also had a similar role to Bell for the past several seasons, and after untimely injuries to both Reggie Bush and Deuce McAlister, Thomas led many owners to fantasy football titles. Thomas has struggled with minor injuries, so it is not out of the question he may miss some time and Bush has proven he cannot carry the load of a NFL running back. Stash Bell away, if for any reason than having a fantastic title game matchup with Tampa Bay.
Chester Taylor – Vikings (Owned in 50.1% of Leagues)
DET, SEA, CHI, @ARI, CIN, @CAR, @CHI
Chester Taylor doesn’t get much playing time thanks to a guy named Peterson. If you haven’t heard Mr. Peterson is pretty good, and the Vikings are looking like a lock to make the playoffs so far. If you are in a shallow league, Taylor may be on your waiver wire and is worth a pickup in any format. The Vikings may decide to limit Peterson’s carries later in the season to save him for the NFL playoffs. The Vikings have some great matchups in Week 15 and 16 with the Panthers and Bears respectively and Taylor could be a viable option in your lineup those weeks.
Justin Forsett – Seahawks (Owned in 1.5% of Leagues)
@ARI, @MIN, @STL, SF, @HOU, TB, @GB
With the release of Edgerrin James, Forsett has been the primary backup to Julius Jones for Seattle. Aside from the matchup with the Vikings in Week 11, it appears to be smooth sailing for the Seahawks for the remainder of the year. Jones had a tough time getting started against the Lions last week, and only a rushing touchdown saved his day from being abysmal. If the losses keep mounting for Seattle, Forsett is a good bet to get some late season starts so the coaching staff can see what they have for the future at the position.
Bernard Scott – Bengals (Owned in .70% of Leagues)
@PIT, @OAK, CLE, DET, @BAL, @SD, KC
Bernard Scott is the first of my extreme long shots to have any fantasy value the remainder of the season. Cedric Benson is on pace for over 390 carries, so Marvin Lewis will want to rest him at some point. Scott would be a good bet to get some additional carries, and should Benson miss any time it would be Scott getting the bulk of the work and not Brian Leonard.
Willis McGahee – Ravens (Owned in 72.8% of Leagues)
@CLE, IND, PIT, @GB, DET, CHI, @PIT
Willis McGahee hasn’t been seen in the box score much lately with the emergence of Ray Rice. McGahee was a touchdown vulture for the first part of the season, so it stands to reason that he could have some good games against the weaker teams on their schedule like Cleveland, Detroit and Chicago. He should be the handcuff if you own Rice at this point, but we’ve seen that the Ravens like run the ball even more when the weather gets colder.
Kolby Smith – Chiefs (Owned in .40% of Leagues)
@OAK, PIT, @SD, DEN, BUF, CLE, @CIN
Kolby Smith would be ranked higher on my list if the Chiefs had a better offensive line. If you look at the matchups, Smith could be useful as an emergency starter versus Oakland, San Diego, Buffalo and Cleveland. Jamaal Charles will get the first crack at the feature back job with the departure of Larry Johnson, but Smith has proven he can carry the load in the past when given the opportunity.
Finally the preseason is over, roster cuts have been made and the season is less than a week away. RookieBlitz.com takes a second look of its ranked players and highlights the rookies that will help you win your Fantasy Football League in 2009. Watching preseason football can be tedious at times, but it is very important to see how the new rookies will adapt to the speed, pressure, and schemes they are put in. Read on for several players that RookieBlitz.com recommends are on every team this season.
Mark Sanchez – NYJ: Sanchez looks the part of a franchise quarterback. He will struggle as a rookie, but he appears to have “it”. Sanchez (NYJ vs. MIA) is a viable starting option for Aaron Rodgers owners during the Packers Week 5 Bye.
Matthew Stafford – DET: The Lions have yet to name their starting QB, and when Stafford gets his chance this season you will want to monitor him on the waiver wire depending on the size of your league. He will run hot and cold much like a Jay Cutler, but get used to saying Stafford to Calvin Johnson.
Knowshon Moreno – DEN: Moreno is currently nursing a knee injury that will hamper him the first few weeks of the NFL season. The cream will rise to the top and you can use his injury to your advantage as he falls in drafts or as a trade target from a nervous owner. He could be a key contributor for your team beginning after Week 4, and is still the RookieBlitz.com choice for Rookie of the Year.
Donald Brown – IND: This guy has everything you are looking for in a running back and is already one of the hardest working members of the Colts. Brown could be one of the top keeper players in 2010 with a big season as the lead back in the Colts committee approach with Joseph Addai. Brown will pass Addai at some point in 2009.
Chris “Beanie” Wells – ARI: Unless you take him early, you probably won’t get Wells on your team in 2009. I am higher on Moreno and Brown, but Wells still is a big and fast physical specimen. Only Tim Hightower stands in his way of the starting job. One final word of caution, the Cardinals will still make their hay passing the ball to Fitzgerald and Boldin and there isn’t much history of successful lead backs in Arizona.
LeSean McCoy – PHI: It is hard to believe McCoy’s talent matches the massive hype surrounding him. He was previously compared to Jamaal Charles by RookieBlitz.com, which is not a slight at either player. Should he get an opportunity due to injury to Brian Westbrook, McCoy would be an every week start in the high powered Eagles offense even with his talent shortcomings.
Shonn Greene – NYJ: It is hard to see the hype based on the game film of Shonn Greene so far in preseason action. Leon Washington is finally flashing his all around talent and Thomas Jones still looks like a solid running back. Greene would get a chance with an injury to Jones, but Washington would get a larger share of the carries in that scenario.
James Davis – CLE: Davis has showed big play ability this preseason after he fell in the draft due to a subpar senior season at Clemson. Davis will capitalize on his opportunity and will earn some late season starts as the Browns try to see what they have in him. Don’t go too crazy to get Davis early in your drafts; Cleveland is still in for a long season in 2009.
Mike Goodson – CAR: Goodson is too talented to keep off the field as he has been one of the best stories this preseason. You need to keep an eye on the Jonathan Stewart injury situation. Goodson should be a target on DeAngelo Williams owners as a handcuff, Stewart will be drafted too high to be considered.
Bernard Scott – CIN: One of the stars of Hard Knocks, Scott has the best chance to be this year’s Steve Slaton. He’s already locked down the backup job to Benson and needs to be on one of the last spots on your roster.
Glenn Coffee – SF and Rashad Jennings – JAX: Coffee will be the primary backup to Frank Gore, and Jennings will backup Maurice Jones-Drew.
Percy Harvin – MIN: One of the most hyped rookies this preseason, you need to have clarity in you believe in Harvin in 2009. You’ll have to draft him before more established veterans like Derrick Mason, Torry Holt and Donald Driver. Harvin’s talent is undeniable, but you may be better off going with one of the veterans instead.
Hakeem Nicks – NYG: Nicks will supplant Hixon by midseason at the latest. Nicks has been showing his big play ability the last 2 games of the preseason and will force his way into more playing time for the Giants.
Jeremy Maclin – PHI: Maclin is developing nicely and could have more of an early opportunity with the injury concerns surrounding Kevin Curtis. McNabb has already stated he thinks Maclin could start now.
Kenny Britt – TEN: Britt was one of the players this preseason that made me change my outlook for him based on his play. He could develop into a matchup nightmare like a Brandon Marshall. He is likely an early season starter with Nate Washington on the mend.
Darrius Heyward-Bey – OAK: Chaz Schilens will be out for several more weeks, so Heyward-Bey will be the top option for the Raiders by default. He is worth a late round flier based on his upside, but his best case scenario long term is a Bryant Johnson type that flashes ability inconsistently.
Michael Crabtree – SF: Crabtree continues to holdout. He has little redraft value left in 2009; he is worth a last round flier as a player to watch in 2010.
Deon Butler – SEA: Butler is another player that was worth another look this preseason based on his play. He could supplant Deion Branch at some point this season as the starting slot receiver.
Brian Hartline – MIA: Fourth round pick Brian Hartline got some starts this preseason so stay tuned to find out if it was a motivational play to Bess and Camarillo or if he is a deep sleeper good enough to start as a rookie in the NFL.
Sammie Stroughter – TB: Stroughter has proved he shouldn’t have fallen to the 7th round and has worked himself into a prominent role in the Buccaneers’ offense.
Austin Collie – IND: Collie is too talented to keep off the field. He’ll be in a rotation with Pierre Garcon for the slot receiver position in the high octane Colts offense.
Mohamed Massaquoi and Brian Robiskie – CLE: Neither player stood out this preseason, but are worth monitoring because of the wide open opportunity at wide receiver in Cleveland.
Jared Cook – TEN: Cook will play a hybrid WR/TE role in 2009, and will make some big plays out of the slot when matched against slower linebackers. Temper expectations (Remember Vernon Davis), but he could still be in for some big games.
Brandon Pettigrew – DET: Pettigrew will be the second receiving option for the Lions behind Calvin Johnson. He’s not worth getting excited about, but monitor him on the waiver wire. Rookie tight ends tend to struggle so don’t count on him for consistent production.
RookieBlitz.com Certified Fresh Rookies in 2009
The following players are worthy of being on your fantasy football roster in 2009 if at all possible:
QB: Mark Sanchez
RB: Knowshon Moreno, Donald Brown, James Davis, Mike Goodson, Bernard Scott
WR: Percy Harvin, Hakeem Nicks
Donald Brown, Knowshon Moreno, and Percy Harvin will cost you a mid-round selection as the hype around each is considerable. Each is worth the price to acquire them.
Monitor Sanchez, Davis, Goodson, Scott and Nicks as you fill out the end of your roster on draft day. The payoff for each could be huge, and you’ll beat your leaguemates to the punch as they lead your team to the top in 2009.
Stay tuned to RookieBlitz.com thought-out the season as we highlight the key rookie performances from each week and give you the analysis you need to win your fantasy football league!
We finally got to see the preseason debut of Beanie Wells against the Packers as he ran for 2 touchdowns. I’ll be impressed once he shows he can stay healthy. This performance confirmed what we already knew: Beanie is big and fast. I want to see some toughness and then I’ll consider moving him up my draft board. I still don’t recommend taking Wells at his current ADP of 75th overall.
Speaking of a player who’s ADP is too high is Michael Crabtree. He is still being drafted ahead of Josh Morgan and Isaac Bruce in many leagues which is baffling. Check out Andrew Garda’s Twitter feed for more on this, he finds it even more absurd than I do. I will have to consider dropping Crabtree in my Dynasty/Keeper league rankings if he doesn’t end his holdout soon.
I can’t seem to go a week without mentioning Jets starting quarterback Mark Sanchez. I was impressed with his performance against the Giants as he bounced back nicely from his tough matchup with Baltimore the week prior. Sanchez may be a viable fantasy option for Aaron Rodgers owners this year (Week 5 at the Miami Dolphins) as a bye week replacement.
Gartrell Johnson appears to have locked down a roster spot for the Chargers at the expense of Michael Bennett. Watch out for this guy in the future. Think Michael Turner.
Speedster Mike Goodson might just have an important role in 2009 with the injury concerns to Jonathan Stewart. Jeff Haseley of Footballguys.com has been monitoring Goodson’s situation very closely. Drop him a line on Twitter for any fantasy football advice or anything involving the Carolina Panthers.
Bernard Scott quietly has wrapped up the backup running back spot to Cedric Benson. If you are looking for the 2009 version of Steve Slaton, Scott may be your best bet.
Jim Trotter writes in his Rookie Review that Beanie Wells sustained an ankle injury during the first practice of camp. The injury tag seems to have stuck with Wells, and an early training camp injury will not help put those concerns to rest. Trotter called it a freak injury as two players rolled on his leg from behind.
Wells will get drafted too early for you to seriously consider him in your fantasy football draft this summer. He is being drafted in the 5th round, and his production will be no better than Donald Brown of the Colts who is being drafted in the 7th Round or later. Wells will be one of the biggest risk/reward running backs this year, but you would be wise to pass on him.
The question every Fantasy Football owner faces each summer is when to take the new rookie players in their Fantasy Football Drafts. It can be tough to gauge when to pull the trigger on the right player at the right time in your draft. There are no career stats to thumb through, and only speculative player comparisons to get an idea of how well each of these players will do. The best owners find a way to maximize the value of these players in their draft strategy and end up with several players who out produce their draft position.
Looking back to the 2008 season, there were several rookies who exceeded all expectations and likely propelled their teams into the playoffs. If you were lucky enough last year to get a Matt Forte, Chris Johnson or Steve Slaton you can relate. There may have been some luck involved, but the savvy fantasy football owner likely knew each of these players very well going into their draft.
Drafting rookies does not come without risk, and a team made up of mostly rookie players is unlikely to have a winning record. Most often you hope for the best, and you optimistically project stats for a rookie at his ceiling rather than his floor or even his likely average somewhere in between. A rookie that performs at a stud player level is highly uncommon especially at quarterback and wide receiver. Even after breakout rookie campaigns where they led their teams to the playoffs, Matt Ryan and Joe Flacco were barely backup level fantasy quarterbacks last season.
RookieBlitz.com has put together a Rookies-Only Draft Guide to help you navigate through your redraft league this summer. Each player has value and no player should be completely removed from your draft board. You want to maximize the players that you take that will exceed the draft position they were selected in. Many of the rookies listed below may go even higher than their listed ADP. Using the RookieBlitz.com draft guide you can feel confident that you will stick to your draft board and not make any major reaches that will cripple your team. Depending on the level of your competition, you may be able to get some of these players much later than the recommended round listed.
Each player has a recommendation of Draft or Pass given their current ADP.
Average Draft Position (ADP) listed as of July 30, 2009 using a 12 Team League Format
QB Matthew Stafford – DET
2009 Outlook: Competing with Daunte Culpepper to start Week 1
Current ADP: 15th Round
Recommendation: Draft – 12th Round or later
QB Mark Sanchez – NYJ
2009 Outlook: Competing with Kellen Clemens to start Week 1
Current ADP: 15th Round
Recommendation: Pass – Draft in the 17th Round or later
RB Knowshon Moreno – DEN
2009 Outlook: Competing to be the Broncos featured back
Current ADP: 4th Round
Recommendation: Draft – 3rd Round or later
RB Chris “Beanie” Wells – ARI
2009 Outlook: Competing with Tim Hightower for snaps at RB
Current ADP: 5th Round
Recommendation: Pass – Draft in the 7th Round or later
RB Donald Brown – IND
2009 Outlook: Competing with Joseph Addai for snaps at RB
Current ADP: 7th Round
Recommendation: Draft – 7th Round or later
RB LeSean McCoy – PHI
2009 Outlook: Handcuff to Brian Westbrook
Current ADP: 9th Round
Recommendation: Draft – 9th Round or later
RB Shonn Greene – NYJ
2009 Outlook: Goal-line RB
Current ADP: 12th Round
Recommendation: Pass – Draft in the 18th Round or later
RB Michael Crabtree – SF
2009 Outlook: Competing with Isaac Bruce to start
Current ADP: 8th Round
Recommendation: Draft – 7th Round or later
WR Hakeem Nicks – NYG
2009 Outlook: Competing to replace Plaxico Burress
Current ADP: 11th Round
Recommendation: Pass – Draft in the 13th Round or later
WR Percy Harvin – MIN
2009 Outlook: Starting WR, Wildcat QB
Current ADP: 10th Round
Recommendation: Pass – Draft 13th Round or later
WR Jeremy Maclin – PHI
2009 Outlook: Competing with Kevin Curtis to start
Current ADP: 11th Round
Recommendation: Pass – Draft in the 16th Round or later
WR Brian Robiskie – CLE
2009 Outlook: Starting WR
Current ADP: 14th Round
Recommendation: Draft – 12th Round or later
WR Kenny Britt – TEN
2009 Outlook: Competing to start at WR
Current ADP: 18th Round
Recommendation: Draft – 13th Round or later
WR Darrius Heyward-Bey – OAK
2009 Outlook: Starting WR
Current ADP: 15th Round
Recommendation: Pass – Draft 17th Round or later
TE Brandon Pettigrew – DET
2009 Outlook: Starting TE
Current ADP: 17th Round
Recommendation: Pass – Draft 19th Round or later
In summary, the following players will out produce their current draft position and should be players on your radar on draft day: Matthew Stafford, Knowshon Moreno, Donald Brown, LeSean McCoy, Michael Crabtree, Brian Robiskie, and Kenny Britt. Don’t be disappointed if one of these players is taken before you can select them. You’ll have someone of equal value fall to your spot after someone makes that reach.
Good luck and happy drafting from RookieBlitz.com