1. Chris Johnson. This is assuming Chris Johnson ever reports to camp. He’ll come in eventually, what’s Tennessee going to do, have Hasselbeck throw the ball 45 times a game? Gut evidence in lieu of stats: Johnson still is the guy in the league most likely to break an 80-yard run. He’ll win you games by himself when he explodes, and Tennessee runs the ball behind what I’m assuming is a good offensive line.
2. Jamaal Charles. Is Todd Haley going to be reasonable this year? What’s the deal with Thomas Jones? Can we find that guy a pasture? My only concern is that K.C. could very well go back to sucking this year, instead of being mediocre. Gut evidence: This feels like Jamaal’s career year, and if I had his yards per carry stats in front of me, you’d be impressed.
3. Arian Foster. Foster loses points for all the features I read about him where he gets cast as the standard, “smart-guy athlete.” He reads! He asks questions! Guess what, my fantasy league doesn’t give points for reading books. Good for him, but Houston has teased with franchise backs before. Remember Steve Slaton? I know that’s a totally BS comparison. Gut evidence: Foster is a beast, and that Texans defense gets the offense back on the field. Not by getting stops, but by giving up 3 minute TD Drives.
4. Adrian Peterson. Peterson is either going to be the best back this year, or the seventh best, so I average that out and put him at four. I have to feel the presence of Donovan McNabb will suck away at Peterson’s will to live a little bit. And, the sooner they put Ponder in and he just turns around and hands the ball off, the better. Gut evidence: Peterson feels safe. Some of these guys are like me around a jar of peanut butter, they can’t be trusted, but Peterson won’t kill your team no matter where you take him in the 1st round.
5. LeSean McCoy. I talked about the volatile Eagles offense yesterday. I think McCoy is the safest bet. Maybe we’re a bit worried about Ronnie Brown at the goal line, but other than that McCoy is going to be getting closer and closer to Brian Westbrook territory. Gut Evidence: McCoy will gain 1,800 yards from scrimmage this year and score 12 touchdowns. Mark it down.
6. Ray Rice. You have to get over the stigma of taking a Raven in fantasy football. I can’t imagine living a life where Unibrow is my fantasy quarterback, but Rice has to deal with that on the actual field. The way I look at this is, what the hell else is Baltimore going to do on offense? Gut Evidence: Rice will catch an astronomical number of balls out of the backfield this year, and eventually they’ll stop vulturing his TDs. (Probably not)
7. Rashard Mendenhall. Mendenhall is about as exciting as a Ben Francisco at-bat. If I have a pick in the 6-9 range and I’m looking at Mendenhall…I won’t take him. But, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t. It’s the Steelers. They run the ball. They’re a good team. Gut Evidence: The Magic Eight ball says, 21 carries, 82 yards and a TD. (PS, 1 catch for 0 yards).
8. Steven Jackson. Any guy who’s slogged through it with the Rams like Jackson has deserves some credit. I think half the backs in the league probably just tank it, and try to revive their career somewhere else, but Jackson took on the responsibility of being the only good player on the 53-man roster in 2009. Now, he’s got Sam Bradford! Gut Evidence: My closing argument is, The NFC West. That is all.
9. LeGarrette Blount. That’s 2-r’s and 2-t’s. Time to get a little frisky. Blount was waiver bait until about mid-season last year and then he started pounding the ball while we all asked, is Tampa actually scoring TDs? They were. This guy is going to swing fantasy leagues this year. I just don’t know in which direction. Gut evidence: Blount is a goal line wrecking ball, but…Josh Freeman.
10. Darren McFadden. There was a 2-day stretch last year when I tried to completely overhaul my fantasy team. Basically, I was trying to get 8 really good players from the 6 good ones and 6 average ones that I had. McFadden was one of my targets, but the deals didn’t go through. Gut Evidence: One of these years, McFadden could actually stay healthy, but…The Radiers.
11. Felix Jones, 12. Frank Gore, 13. Michael Turner, 14. Ahmad Bradshaw, 15. MJD, 16. Matt Forte, 17. Beanie Wells, 18. Ryan Grant, 19. Jahvid Best, 20. Mike Tolbert.
The Back-Up You Have to Get: Rashad Jennings. I shouldn’t be giving away this type of information, but the Gut says MJD’s leg ain’t gonna survive the year. I think instead of ligaments and tendons he has popsicle sticks and crossed fingers. Jennings averaged 5.5 yards a carry last season. There, I finally used a stat. Hand-Cuff away.
Fantasy Football Recruitment Update:
We’re slowly building momentum for a stragglers league. I feel like maybe we’d have about six guys at this point. So, here’s another reminder that if you are interested in joining yet another fantasy league, or if you are currently on the outside looking in, let me know. If you’ve already shown interest, expect an email next week sometime and we’ll figure out if we have enough people, or we can try to recruit for the last spots. In DA News, we’ve got a solid, full slate of teams and are ready to go.