The NFL draft is always more exciting for me than it is for anyone I have ever known. Many of the new millionaires are kids that I have scouted online, or watched on local cable access channels since they were in high school. This means that I cheer for some of them, and have inflated expectations for others. One thing that this bias does not interfere with is my dominance over the rest of my fantasy football world, which includes a couple of family leagues and 5 or 6 public leagues per year. Yes, I do win a lot of them. So without any further boredom. I give you the top 10 fantasy football winners in this years NFL draft:
10. Sam Bradford QB (Rams): I’m not super high on his upside for this year, but he will be the starter at some point in the 2010 season. He is not worth a fantasy draft pick. Keep an eye on when the Rams decide to throw him to the wolves, though. He has the potential to be a waiver wire spot start for you this year. If you are in a keeper league, and live in Oklahoma or St. Louis, you will have to spend a late round pick on him… just to lock it up.
9. Jermaine Gresham TE (Bengals): His QB is a stud who has needed a big pass catching TE to throw to for years. Gresham steps in as the week 1 starter. Feel free to let the other people draft Tony Gonzalez and Antonio Gates in the fourth round, just wait and take Gresham with your second to last pick, right before you pick a kicker.
8. Tampa Bay defense: Not going to be the #1 defense this season, but they are going to be worth starting on most weeks. This year’s NFL draft gave them the two DT’s they’ve needed to anchor the famous Tampa 2. Mccoy and Price, Sapp and Mcfarland, I just wrote the names. You make the comparison.
7. Jason Campbell QB (Raiders): Demoted in Washington when McNabb arrived, Campbell is now the starter in Oak town with multiple weapons in the backfield, at TE, and speed on the outside. Campbell will be a nice backup QB in fantasy leagues, with the upside to be an every week starter.
6. C.J. Spiller RB (Bills): Who plays QB in Buffalo? Who plays any position in Buffalo? This guy steps in as one of the only players with name recognition on the Bills team. He was the first RB taken in the draft and will get the ball in the running, passing, and return games.
5. Alex Smith QB (49ers): San Francisco used both of their first round picks on offensive lineman who should start right away. Add in the facts that Smith will be the starter from day one this year. He has plenty of weapons around him, and more time in his system than Campbell has in Oakland. Smith is rated higher because of the WR’s he has to throw to. Like Campbell, he is going to be a solid fantasy backup with starter potential.
4. Frank Gore RB (49ers): I’m repeating myself a bit, but new bulldozers up front, and Michael Crabtree, Vernon Davis and Alex Smith all on the field with him in week one. This will make Gore a first round fantasy RB again this year. Add in that he has one of the best back-stories in the NFL and this is a guy you want on your team
3. NY Jets defense: This is a reward for an entire offseason. They brought in a proven pass-rusher, a starting safety, drafted a stud corner (who will be the nickel back), and they improved the offense, which should help the Defense stay off the field. This unit could very well be the best fantasy defense in the league this year.
2. Jahvid Best RB (Lions): I have watched Pac-10 football for 20 years, and have seen plenty of great running backs who did not translate well into fantasy football studs when they reached the NFL. Jahvid Best is not one of them. He will not disappoint. Watch him do a very good impersonation of Maurice Jones-Drew’s rookie year numbers.
1. Ryan Mathews RB (Chargers): Do you remember when San Diego traded the #1 pick (Mike Vick) to move down and get Ladainian Tomlinson? I do, I loved that draft day trade, and I loved this year’s version of it too. San Diego has a high-powered offense already. Mathews has the potential to repeat Tomlinson’s rookie year stats (Almost 1,600 total yards and 10 TD’s), if not better them. This guy is probably worth a second round fantasy pick (you can probably get him in the 3rd/4th round), and could be the best fantasy back in the NFL this year.