2009 Fantasy Football Rankings: Free Agency Stock Up
In the first of many of my 2009 Fantasy Football articles, here are 10 players whose stock has gone up based on what happened in free agency. There will be many more 2009 Fantasy Football features in the late spring and summer, including tons of 2009 Fantasy Football Mock Drafts, Player Rankings, Sleepers and Busts. I'll also have an extensive 2009 NFL Fantasy Football Preseason Stock Report.
2009 Fantasy Football Quarterbacks - Stock Up:
Trent Edwards, Bills
I'm man enough to admit this - when someone took Trent Edwards one pick before me in the 13th round of my Touchdown League last year, I almost cried. Not because I thought Edwards would have a great statistical year or anything; I had Peyton Manning and needed a favorable matchup for his Week 4 bye. The Bills were playing the Rams, so I thought Edwards would have at least 400 yards and eight touchdowns. Modest expectations, to say the least.
Edwars was just 15-of-25 for 197 yards, one touchdown and a pick against the pathetic Rams. In fact, Edwards threw two touchdowns in a single game only once all year. That, however, may change with Terrell Owens.
Despite his antics, Owens has, in fact, improved the quarterbacks he has worked with. Tony Romo has been a great fantasy quarterback. Donovan McNabb had his best statistical year with Owens. Even Jeff Garcia eclipsed the 30-touchdown plateau twice in San Francisco.
Edwards isn't an elite fantasy quarterback by any means, but he's a borderline QB1-2 with Owens and Lee Evans split out wide. And if you need him for one week against a pathetic defense, he'll actually come through this time.
Matt Hasselbeck, Seahawks
Who has been Matt Hasselbeck's best wide receiver in Seattle? Some may argue Bobby Engram. Others, Darrell Jackson. Deion Branch (when healthy) could get some votes. And who could forget the venerable Taco Wallace?
Well, beginning in September, that question will have a more definitive answer - T.J. Houshmandzadeh.
More importantly, Matt Hasselbeck should be good to go by training camp after missing nine games in 2008 with back and leg injuries.
2009 Fantasy Football Running Backs - Stock Up:
Matt Forte, Bears
Matt Forte rushed for 1,238 yards, caught 63 passes for 477 receiving yards and scored 12 touchdowns as a mere rookie. He would have been in the first round of almost every fantasy draft this summer.
So, how did Forte's stock improve?
Well, the Bears ripped off the seemingly inept Josh McDaniels and the Broncos, acquiring one of the top young quarterbacks in the NFL. With Jay Cutler at the helm, opposing defenses won't have the luxury of targeting Forte anymore.
Meanwhile, the Bears signed Orlando Pace, Kevin Shaffer and Frank Omiyale this offseason, giving them a talented and deep line.
With huge running lanes to scamper through and the fact that opposing defenses will focus on Cutler, look for Forte's YPC average to soar from 3.9 into the mid-to-high 4-yard range.
Clinton Portis, Redskins
Daniel Snyder is known for overpaying old and crappy players, throwing tons of cash around the free-agent market as if he were at a strip joint, and sitting on his throne and anointing himself as King of the NFL Offseason.
But this year, Snyder actually did something right - he signed one of the most dominant forces in football.
Did he overpay for Albert Haynesworth? Absolutely, but he has the money and the NFL could be going into an uncapped year.
With Haynesworth on board, Washington's defense has suddenly become very potent. They already ranked sixth in points allowed in 2008, so Haynesworth's presence will mean even more three-and-outs for the opposition.
With more leads and possessions, Clinton Portis will have more opportunities to touch the ball. And when he does, he'll have more running room with newly signed Derrick Dockery back at left guard.
2009 Fantasy Football Wide Receivers - Stock Up:
Bernard Berrian, Vikings
As long as Tarvaris Jackson stays off the field, Bernard Berrian has proven he can be a viable fantasy option in Minnesota.
Taking out the six games in which Jackson saw extensive action, Berrian caught 39 passes for 757 yards and five touchdowns in the 10 remaining contests. If you spread those numbers over the course of a full campaign, you get 62 receptions, 1,211 yards and eight scores. Not too shabby.
Just from that outlook, Berrian seems like he could be a sleeper this season. But then you can also factor in that the Vikings actually have a capable signal-caller for the first time since 2005.
Sage Rosenchoker may not be the most attractive quarterback in the league, but he has thrown for 3,115 yards and 21 touchdowns in his previous 15 appearances, five of which weren't even starts.
As long as Rosenchoker beats out Jackson in camp (which I would fully expect to happen, even if Rosenchoker suddenly loses vision in both of his eyes) you'll be thrilled if you draft Berrian as a sleeper.
Devin Hester, Bears
Those who still think Chicago made a big mistake by taking away Devin Hester's return opportunities and moving him to receiver haven't been paying attention. I'll admit that I was against the transition at first, but it really paid off toward the end of the 2008 season.
If you take Devin Hester's final 12 games and exclude the two contests Kyle Orton either missed or failed to play anywhere near 100 percent, the Miami product racked up 41 receptions and 564 yards. Spread those figures out over a 16-game slate, and you get 66 catches and 902 yards.
Those aren't great numbers, but Hester is getting a huge boost with Jay Cutler at quarterback. Unlike Orton, Cutler can make all the throws, meaning Hester will be more of an offensive threat in 2009.
Sidney Rice, Vikings
An early late-round sleeper candidate of mine. I like Sidney Rice for two reasons, the first being the upgrade at quarterback for Minnesota.
Secondly, I never expected much out of Rice until now. Rice was only 20 when he was drafted. On Sept. 1, he turns 23, meaning he's much more physically and mentally prepared than he was going into his first two NFL seasons. Rice never even had the opportunity to do anything in 2008 because he suffered a knee injury in Week 2. Rice played toward the end of the campaign, but never was 100 percent.
If a healthy Rice gets an opportunity, he could put up some really nice numbers with Sage Rosenchoker at quarterback. Rice is 6-4, 202, and gifted athletically. He has the size to be a touchdown machine if he can stay on the field.
Roy Williams, Cowboys
Following Terrell Owens' release, Jerry Jones has harped on and on about how he loves Miles Austin and wants to make babies with him. Maybe I'm exaggerating just a bit, but one has to wonder why Jones hasn't said much about Roy Williams.
Well, I'm not in love with Austin (unless you're talking about Kate Austin from Lost) so I will mention Williams.
Williams wasn't effective in 2008 for three reasons. First and foremost, he wasn't familiar with Dallas' offense. As a receiver, coming into a new team during the middle of the season can be incredibly taxing. Secondly, he was hindered with a plantar fascia. And third, he was asked to play flanker last year because Owens started at split end. Williams is a natural split end and was uncomfortable in his new position.
With Owens gone, Williams has already moved to split end. He's getting healthy and learning the playbook. Thousands of fantasy owners are going to avoid Williams because of his horrific 2008 campaign. I won't. Barring any new injuries, Williams will be one of my mid-round sleepers.
2009 Fantasy Football Tight End - Stock Up:
Greg Olsen, Bears
Jay Cutler sure loves giving it to his tight ends. Not that there's anything wrong with that.
In just seven starts (he played 13 games, but played hurt for six of them), Tony Scheffler caught 40 passes for 645 yards and three touchdowns last season. In seven starts in 2007, Scheffler registered 49 receptions, 549 yards and five scores.
Greg Olsen is much more athletically gifted than Scheffler. The Miami product managed 54 catches, 574 yards and five touchdowns last year.
With Cutler under center, I expect Olsen's numbers to keep improving. I'll be pretty surprised if Olsen, now entering his third season, doesn't emerge as a top second-tier tight end.
2009 Fantasy Football Defense - Stock Up:
Unlike baseball, one area on a football team can vastly affect the other. In baseball, it doesn't matter how good your hitting is. If you have crappy pitchers, you'll continue to have crappy pitching even if your lineup can produce eight runs per game.
In football, an improved offense can make a defense much better; having more leads can force the opposition into becoming more one-dimensional. The defense can then tee off on the opposing quarterback and force more turnovers.
With Jay Cutler at quarterback, the Bears are going to put up more points. So, even if they don't draft anyone to help the stop unit this April, they'll be able to improve upon their sack total (28) of 2008. More sacks equate to more turnovers, so combine that with Chicago's dynamic special teams, and you have one of the top fantasy defenses in 2009.
Again, this is the first of many of my 2009 Fantasy Football articles. Come back in May-August, where there will be tons more 2009 Fantasy Football content, including tons of 2009 Fantasy Football Mock Drafts, Player Rankings, Sleepers and Busts. I'll also have an extensive 2009 NFL Fantasy Football Preseason Stock Report.