In one of many 2010 Fantasy Football articles to come, here are my 2010 Fantasy Football Sleepers (Mid-Round). There will be many more 2010 Fantasy Football features this summer, including tons of 2010 Fantasy Football Mock Drafts, Player Rankings, and Training Camp and Preseason Stock Reports.
2010 Fantasy Football Sleepers (Mid-Round):
Joe Flacco, QB, Ravens. Bye: 8.
With the additions of Anquan Boldin and Donte' Stallworth in free agency, and Ed Dickson and Dennis Pitta in the 2010 NFL Draft, I think you have to consider Joe Flacco as a low-end QB1 right now. Remember, he had a six-game stretch at the beginning of the 2009 season when he threw for 1,674 yards and 11 touchdowns - and that was with Derrick Mason and crap as his targets.
Michael Bush, RB, Raiders. Bye: 10. MAY 20 UPDATE: Good news - Michael Bush took most of the first-team reps in OTAs. We're still not out of the woods yet with Darren McFadden, but it's looking a lot safer to draft Bush.
If it were announced that Michael Bush would be the every-down running back for the Raiders this season, he might be in my top 25 overall. Bush is very talented and somehow mustered 4.8 yards per carry last year (589 rush yards, 17 receptions, 107 receiving yards, 3 TDs) despite playing with a horrific offensive line and no quarterback. The Raiders have upgraded both areas this offseason, meaning their ground attack will be more effective going forward.
The problem? Darren McFadden. The Raiders are so financially invested in McFadden that they'll probably give him the opportunity before Bush. McFadden isn't very good though, and it's only a matter of time before Oakland realizes that he's nothing more than a third-down back. Once Bush starts receiving 20-plus carries per contest, he'll be a legitimate RB2. When/if that time comes is anyone's guess, however.
Ben Tate, RB, Texans. Bye: 7.
Michael Lombardi predicts that Ben Tate will win Offensive Rookie of the Year and rush for 1,500 yards in 2010. I think that could happen; with Steve Slaton coming off injury, Tate doesn't have to share carries with anyone. The Auburn product is a perfect fit in Houston's offense. Remember all of those instances when the Texans failed to get into the end zone from the 1-yard line? At 220 pounds, Tate will score in those scenarios.
One issue: If Tate fumbles a couple of times, Gary Kubiak will pull him out of the lineup completely. We've seen Kubiak's quick hook before, and it ruined things for all Steve Slaton owners last year.
Cadillac Williams, RB, Buccaneers. Bye: 4.
Cadillac Williams is always a huge injury risk, but he does have upside this fantasy season. Cadillac rushed for 836 yards and seven total touchdowns on a 3.9 average last year despite playing with abysmal quarterbacks. Now that Josh Freeman is in his second year and has talented receivers (Arrelious Benn, Mike Williams) to work with, defenses won't be able to focus entirely on Cadillac. Tampa's expected improved offense will also give Cadillac more goal-line opportunities. The only question is if he can stay healthy.
Devin Aromashodu, WR, Bears. Bye: 8.
Devin Aromashodu barely played last year, but really shined in the final four games of the season. In those contests, he caught 22 passes for 282 yards and four touchdowns. It was clear that Jay Cutler had a great rapport with Aromashodu, so I'm excited to see what a complete offseason together will do for the two players. Also remember who the new offensive coordinator is. Cutler will post monstrous fantasy numbers this year thanks to Mike Martz, and you can bet Aromashodu will be the recipient of a ton of targets.
Johnny Knox, WR, Bears. Bye: 8.
I like Johnny Knox as a mid-round fantasy sleeper. Knox had 45 receptions for 527 yards and five touchdowns as a rookie last season. Now, his stats have the potential to soar with Mike Martz as his offensive coordinator. Jay Cutler will be throwing early and often, and it seems as though he and Knox developed a rapport in their brief time together.
Santana Moss, WR, Redskins. Bye: 9.
Santana Moss' quarterbacks over his career: Vinny Testaverde, Chad Pennington, Patrick Ramsey, an aging Mark Brunell, Jason Campbell and Todd Collins. Think Donovan McNabb's a bit better than those six?
Moss generated 902 yards and three touchdowns last year. That obviously wasn't his fault; the offensive line gave Campbell no time to locate Moss downfield. And when Campbell had ample time in the pocket, he just didn't have the talent to maximize Moss' potential.
McNabb changes everything. Assuming he stays healthy, Moss should have one of the best seasons of his career. Moss is only 31, so it's not like he's over the hill quite yet.
Hakeem Nicks, WR, Giants. Bye: 8.
After mustering only three receptions in the first four weeks of his rookie campaign, Hakeem Nicks became a big part of New York's offense. Nicks tallied 47 receptions for 790 yards and six touchdowns by year's end. Now that Nicks is in his second season, Eli Manning will rely on him more. I think it's reasonable to expect 1,000 yards and 6-8 touchdowns from Nicks in 2010.
Jermichael Finley, TE, Packers. Bye: 10.
All aboard the Jermichael Finley bandwagon! I had Jermichael Finley as a sleeper last year, and he didn't disappoint. This season, I'll be pretty surprised if he doesn't finish as a top-five fantasy tight end. Finley is incredibly talented and will be a full-time starter in 2010.
Finley's 2009 stats (55 catches, 676 yards, 5 TDs) don't tell the whole story. He started off slow and missed three weeks in the middle of the season. During his final eight games last year, Finley caught 44 balls for 575 yards and four touchdowns. Multiply that by two for a full 16-game slate, and you get 88 receptions, 1,150 yards and eight scores.
With Tony Gonzalez turning 34, and Vernon Davis' bloated numbers bound to dip just a bit, Finley is my No. 3 fantasy tight end.