Written by John Lindinger (Injured Reserve on the forums). I've been in what seems like a million fantasy football leagues with John, and I consider him to be one of my toughest competitors. He will be providing some fantasy insight for this Web site from time to time. You can e-mail John at
July 26, 2010.
The Lack of Depth this Fantasy Season? Blame the 2008 NFL Draft Class
Where is the talent?
As my preparation for the 2010 fantasy season enters full swing, my thoughts keep returning to this question.
Where is the talent?
I know I cannot be the only person so deeply troubled by this. Or maybe it is just me. Maybe I am the only fantasy owner who is troubled at the prospect of having to use a fifth-round pick on a second-year wide receiver, who (though talented) clearly needs more time to develop. Yet I see no escape from it. The alternative to not selecting a player like Hakeem Nicks or Jeremy Maclin insanely early is to take an equally young wide wideout in a poor situation, like Kenny Britt, or to place your faith in an aging veteran, whose past production will bring you no solace when you're getting blown out on a weekly basis.
What makes this year's fantasy draft even more challenging is that the running back class isn't any better. A running back group that was already lacking elite talent seems to be losing backs by the day.
Cedric Benson seemed like a good choice in the second or third round until he once again demonstrated his idiocy by getting into a barroom confrontation and then attacking an employee who was escorting him outside.
Rashard Mendenhall's 2009 production had some experts taking him in the first round, but with Ben Roethlisberger's four-game absence, the team distraction, and the loss of Willie Colon (Pittsburgh's best run-blocking lineman), he is becoming a riskier selection by the day.
Then there is the annual selection of Steven Jackson that is guaranteed to disappoint. I honestly don't know what it is about Jackson that gets fantasy owners to bank their seasons on him. I guess it's his embarrassing team, rookie quarterback, injury history and lack of red-zone presence that will once again draw in drafters this year.
Now that I have sufficiently complained about the situation, it's time to figure out who is to blame. After all, this league being devoid of talent has to be someone's fault. My initial thought was to cast the blame on Jay Cutler. But that would be far too easy, and to be fair he did do his best to inflate the value of every fantasy defense he faced last year.
My next thought was that the dropoff in strong fantasy options from last year must be the result of an unexpected rapid deterioration of veterans. The list of past superstars that have fallen off the fantasy map since last year includes the likes of LaDainian Tomlinson, Clinton Portis, T.J. Houshmanzadeh, Roy Williams and Braylon Edwards.
However, it's understood that running backs have a short shelf life and there are bound to be a number of players who either have age catch up to them or were just fooling us into thinking that they had talent in the first place (staring right at you Braylon). The downside is that fantasy owners have a few less veterans to rely on, and that I have yet to find a suitable blameworthy candidate. That said, there is a positive that makes its way out of all this. That positive is that the Houshmanzadeh "Championship" draft joke should be laid to rest once and for all. Then again maybe it will actually become funny again, seeing as you can laugh at the incompetent owner who still thinks T.J. is draft-worthy.
Finally the realization hit me. The blame needs to be placed on the 2008 NFL Draft Class. Sure they have given us Chris Johnson and Ray Rice, two of this year's top four elite backs, as well as solid second-round selections DeSean Jackon and Jamaal Charles. However, the 2008 class has taken away far more than it has given.
The 2008 class is clearly at fault for leaving us with no wide receiver depth this year. With the exception of Jackson, the NFL has nothing to show for its early round receiver selections. Donnie Avery, Malcolm Kelly, Limas Sweed, Devin Thomas, Jordy Nelson, James Hardy, Dexter Jackson and Jerome Simpson have amounted to nothing in the NFL, and are the reason 2010 fantasy drafts are filled with so many risky picks of second-year and rookie wide receivers. Fantasy owners are forced to take their chances with undeveloped players from the 2009 and 2010 NFL Drafts, because unlike the before mentioned athletes of 2008, they at least have some potential.
I am now going to focus in on the individual players from the 2008 NFL Draft that have earned my scorn. These athletes are far more noteworthy than the wide receivers I listed above, but are just as culpable for the utter lack of running back and receiver depth this year.
Darren McFadden's greatest gift to fantasy owners would be to take himself out of Oakland's starting running back race and give Michael Bush the full starting role. At least then the Silver and Black would have given us a viable fantasy option. Instead McFadden will once again take a chunk of carries away from Bush, which you can be assured he will do nothing with. Thinking back to the 2008 NFL Draft, I remember all the excitement surrounding McFadden. People glorified him as the next Adrian Peterson, forgetting their hypocrisy as they had deemed Peterson a once-in-a-decade player the year before. I hope by this season that fantasy owners have stopped placing their faith in McFadden and used their early-round pick on someone with a shot of breaking out.
I think Felix Jones is a tremendously talented player. I am virtually positive that he will come out of the gate strong this year and make his fantasy owners appear brilliant. However, there are serious durability concerns with him. I highly doubt he makes it past Week 8 once his role grows in that offense. Jones' greatest gift this season may be that he returns Marion Barber to the change-of-pace back role, where he strangely has had far more fantasy value.
Rashard Mendenhall proved that he could be a consistent fantasy producer last season, at times even looking like a first-rounder. But he has bust written all over him this year (for reasons mentioned earlier in this article). Every team that is set to face the Roethlisberger-less Steelers knows that Mendenhall will be leaned on heavily. They will stack the box and make the Steelers beat them through the air. Consider that Big Ben's Rapetastic Voyage (coming to a bathroom stall near you) will also cost a week or two of rust in the passing game, leading to a miserable month and a half for Mendenhall. I would like to say that Mendenhall will have it easier by mid-season, but I am worried about the toll those tough early carries will take on his body. Remember we have already seen him take a season-ending injury.
I missed Eddie Royal last season. His 2008 would have been built upon were it not for Josh McDaniels' sabotage. The Broncos were lucky enough to get the only other early wide receiver who panned out and then let McDaniels throw that value out the window. I am staying away this year because I don't know which Royal we are going to get, the PPR machine that he was in his rookie season, or the shell of his former self that McDaniels has managed to reduce him to.
Matt Forte, Steve Slaton, and to a lesser extent Kevin Smith lulled us into the false belief that they were the first-round backs of the future. Then they burned countless fantasy owners last season, who had used their top selections on them. Even more troubling is that not one of these players has realistic prospects of reemerging.
Slaton's inability to do anything effectively, except catch screen passes and fumble, led the Texans to bring in Ben Tate. Kevin Smith's ACL tear prompted the Detroit Lions to move up into the first round to grab Jahvid Best. Tate and Best are both talented rookies who should take these starting running back jobs and never look back.
Then there is Matt Forte, possibly the most despised player by fantasy owners last season. It may appear that he has more potential to vault back to elite status than the other two, but looks are deceiving. Those of us who have been avid football fans for years will recall Chester Taylor's tremendous first season with Minnesota. He would have been a top running back for years had Peterson not slipped to the Vikings at No. 7. Meanwhile, Taylor has sat on the bench plotting his revenge. I don't envision that a weak Forte is going to stand in the way of his vengeance.
Finally I have gotten to the 2008 NFL Draft Class' biggest culprit of all, none other than Jonathan Stewart. I know what you're thinking, and yes I have seen him play. I know that he can be downright nasty when handed the ball. But therein lies the problem. Stewart's contributions to the Carolina running game have stripped fantasy owners of one of their precious elite running backs. DeAngelo Williams would be a consensus top five back if Stewart were in another city. But instead of having another top running back, fantasy owners are instead treated to the gut-wrenching game that is trying to decide which runner will get more carries, or which one instantly vaults to top five status once the other goes down to injury.
So, when you're sitting at Pick 10 and cannot think of a single first-round caliber player who is available, make sure to curse Jonathan Stewart because he is the one who did this to you.
More 2010 Fantasy Football Articles:
2010 Fantasy Football: Home
2010 Fantasy Football Rankings:
2010 Fantasy Football Playoff Rankings - 1/5 (Walt)
2010 Fantasy Football: Week 17 Fantasy Rankings - 1/2 (Walt)
2010 Fantasy Football Rankings: Quarterbacks - 8/31 (Walt)
2010 Fantasy Football Rankings: Quarterbacks - 6/6 (Steve)
2010 Fantasy Football Rankings: Running Backs - 9/6 (Walt)
2010 Fantasy Football Rankings: Running Backs - 7/3 (Steve)
2010 Fantasy Football Rankings: Wide Receivers - 9/7 (Walt)
2010 Fantasy Football Rankings: Wide Receivers - 7/14 (Steve)
2010 Fantasy Football Rankings: Tight Ends - 8/31 (Walt)
2010 Fantasy Football Rankings: Tight Ends - 7/20 (Steve)
2010 Fantasy Football Rankings: Kickers - 6/10 (Walt)
2010 Fantasy Football Rankings: Defenses - 6/11 (Walt)
2010 Fantasy Football Auction Values - 9/2 (Walt)
2010 Fantasy Football Rankings: IDP Defensive Linemen - 8/3 (Steve)
2010 Fantasy Football Rankings: IDP Linebackers - 8/7 (Steve)
2010 Fantasy Football Rankings: IDP Defensive Backs - 8/14 (Steve)
2010 Fantasy Football Rankings: Team-by-Team - 6/7 (Walt)
2010 Fantasy Football Rankings: Dynasty Rookie Rankings - 4/30 (Walt)
2010 Fantasy Football Rankings: Rookie Rankings - 4/29 (Walt)
2010 Fantasy Football Cheat Sheets:
2010 Fantasy Football Cheat Sheet: Top 150 Traditional - 9/6 (Walt)
2010 Fantasy Football Cheat Sheet: Top 150 PPR - 9/6 (Walt)
2010 Fantasy Football Cheat Sheet: Top 150 Touchdown League - 9/6 (Walt)
2010 Fantasy Football Rankings: Downloadable Spreadsheets - 9/7 (Walt)
2010 Fantasy Football Mock Drafts:
2010 Fantasy Football Draft: WF.com Free League - 9/7 (Walt)
2010 Fantasy Football Draft: Real Traditional Draft - 9/1 (Walt)
2010 Fantasy Football Draft: Real PPR Draft - 8/26 (Walt)
2010 Fantasy Football Draft: Real PPR Draft - 8/18 (Walt)
2010 Fantasy Football Draft: Real Experts PPR Draft - 8/12 (Walt)
2010 Fantasy Football Experts Mock Draft - 8/12 (Walt)
2010 Fantasy Football Draft: Pros vs. Joes - 7/28 (Walt)
2010 Fantasy Football Mock Draft: PPR Draft with AKA - 7/20 (Walt)
2010 Fantasy Football Mock Draft: Mocking ESPN's Fantasy Mock Draft - 7/7 (Walt)
2010 Fantasy Football Mock Draft: The Four-Man PPR Fantasy Draft - 7/1 (Walt)
2010 Fantasy Football Articles:
2010 Fantasy Football Injury Reports: Week 17 - 1/2 (Walt)
2010 Fantasy Football: Start Em, Sit Em - 12/29 (Walt)
2010 Fantasy Football: Add/Drop - 12/20 (Walt)
2010 Fantasy Football: Stock Index - Week 8 - 10/29 (John)
2010 Fantasy Football Buffet: Week 8 - 10/28 (Steve)
2010 Fantasy Football Stock - 9/7 (Walt)
2010 Fantasy Football Preseason Stock - 9/3 (Walt)
2010 NFL Preseason Recap, Fantasy Football Notes - 9/3 (Walt)
2010 Fantasy Football: High-Upside Late-Round Sleepers - 8/25 (Walt)
2010 Fantasy Football: Top 12 Players to Avoid - 8/25 (Walt)
2010 Fantasy Football: Undervalued Players - 8/13 (John)
2010 Fantasy Football: Buy Low - 8/6 (Walt)
ESPN's 2010 Fantasy Football Magazine Errors - 8/3 (Walt)
2010 Fantasy Football: Defense Strategy - 8/2 (Walt)
2010 Fantasy Football: My Round-by-Round Strategy - 7/27 (Walt)
Lack of 2010 Fantasy Depth: Blame the 2008 NFL Draft Class - 7/26 (John)
2010 Fantasy Football: Why You Should Pass on Chris Johnson - 7/14 (John)
2010 Fantasy Football: Draft Strategies - 7/13 (John)
2010 Fantasy Football: Wide Receiver Scarcity - 6/30 (Walt)
2010 Fantasy Football Sleepers (Late-Round) - 6/2 (Walt)
2010 Fantasy Football Sleepers (Mid-Round) - 6/1 (Walt)
2010 Fantasy Football Busts - 5/31 (Walt)
2010 Fantasy Football Mailbag - 5/29 (Walt)
2010 Fantasy Football: Quarterbacks with New Receivers - 5/1 (Walt)
2010 Fantasy Football: 2010 NFL Draft Stock Up - 4/29 (Walt)
2010 Fantasy Football: 2010 NFL Draft Stock Down - 4/29 (Walt)
2010 Fantasy Football: Free Agency Stock Up - 4/15 (Walt)
2010 Fantasy Football: Free Agency Stock Down - 4/12 (Walt)
Running Backs with Most Carries - 4/10 (Walt)
2017 NFL Mock Draft - May 24
Fantasy Football Rankings - May 20
2016 NBA Mock Draft - May 18
NFL Free Agents
NFL Picks - Feb. 7