Last minute hits and misses heading into your draft

If your league hasn’t had it’s draft yet (such as the two Matt and I are in), I felt it necessary to share my last minute thoughts on some key players at each position. I’ve created two teams, The Hits and The Misses, that include players you should target or avoid in your league’s draft. Keep in mind that I’ve intentionally left out some of the most obvious guys and focused on the players that you might not have thought about as much.

The Hits

QB: Aaron Rodgers, Packers – Rodgers quietly had one of the best years of any fantasy quarterback last season, throwing for over 4,000 yards and 28 touchdowns. The offense returns intact (and a bit healthier overall) and should allow Aaron to put up even better numbers this year. In many leagues, he’s being drafted after Peyton Manning, Philip Rivers and Kurt Warner, but when all is said and done, he could have better numbers than all three of them.
RB1: Ryan Grant, Packers – Last season Grant struggled with hamstring issues, but still put up over 1,000 yards rushing. The problem was his measly four touchdowns. This season he’s back to full health and looks to revive the 5.1 yard per carry that got him nominated to the 2008 ESPN Fantasy Football Hall of Fame.
RB2: Felix Jones, Cowboys – I sense another changing of the guard in Dallas, with Felix being the new “Barbarian”, while Barber becomes the new Julius Jones. Making matters worse for Barber, Felix is being considered for goal-line carries, which was once Barber’s specialty.
WR1: Chad Ochocinco, Bengals – Before last year’s rough, injury-plagued experience, the man formerly known as Mr. Johnson was the model of consistency in the fantasy football world. He had six straight years where he played in 16 games, putting up an average of 1,340 yards and 8 touchdowns in each…pretty awesome stuff. Carson Palmer seems on track to start the season as the team’s quarterback, so Ochocinco should see his stats return to WR1-level, at a WR2 draft spot.
WR2: T.J. Houshmandzadeh, Seahawks – Housh usually played second fiddle to Ochocinco and his loud-mouthed antics, but now he’s the main man in Seattle and finally brings some consistency to a group of receivers that have shown anything but that over the past few years. Hasselbeck will love T.J. and as with his former teammate above, he could put up WR1 stats at a WR2 value.
WR3: Eddie Royal, Broncos – With my boy Brandon Marshall doing everything he can to see his way out of town, I had to include Eddie Royal on this list, as he’s going to be one of Kyle Orton’s top targets all season long.
(WR4): Devin Hester, Bears – Quarterback Jay Cutler will turn this guy into a star, just wait and see.
TE: Kevin Boss, Giants – With Plaxico Burress no longer an option, you have to figure Eli will look towards The Bossman and his 6’6″ frame frequently in the endzone.
K: Ryan Longwell, Vikings – He’s a solid kicker on an improved offense and you should be able to get him in one of the last rounds of your draft.
DEF: New York Jets – Coach Rex Ryan should bring some of his defensive expertise to the Jets, who have also added a few players that should make this one of the better units in the league.

The Misses

QB: Kurt Warner, ARI – Warner (who is 37) hasn’t played 16 games in two consecutive seasons at anytime in his career, so the fact that he played every game last year has me worried a bit. He still has Larry Fitzgerald and Anquan Boldin to throw to, just make sure you don’t spend too high a draft pick on him, unless you plan on drafting another solid quarterback to ride your bench for insurance.
RB1: Marion Barber, Cowboys – As the counterpart to Julius Jones a few years ago, Barber was looking like he’d be a potential #1 pick in fantasy drafts once Jones was done stealing his carries. Last year Marion got his chance and was largely a disappointment, not even breaking the 900 yard mark on the ground (he did catch a lot of passes though.) I have a feeling that Felix Jones is the new hotness and Barber could be the old busted joint when all is said and done. That being said, I still think he’ll put up decent numbers this year…just not RB1 numbers.
RB2: Jamal Lewis, Browns – Last season Lewis just barely broke the 1,000 yard mark and only had four touchdowns. This year he’ll have a rookie, who has shown some electric stuff in the preseason, breathing down his neck. If you take Lewis, make sure to grab James Davis just in case, but my suggestion is to NOT draft Jamal and to scoop up Davis in the later rounds with the hopes of trading him to the unlucky chump who puts Jamal Lewis in his RB2 spot to start the year.
WR1: Roy Williams, Cowboys – As with most receivers that come from Detroit, Williams is already showing injury concerns and just can’t seem to get on the page with quarterback Tony Romo. Roy was supposed to make T.O. expendable, but all he might do is remind the fans how badly they miss Owens and his antics.
WR2: Antonio Bryant, Buccaneers – I’m not liking Byron Leftwich as the quarterback in Tampa Bay and I think Bryant, who is recovering from knee surgery, will find it very tough to match the numbers he put up last year. He makes a decent WR3, but anything higher than that could be a reach.
WR3: Kevin Curtis, Eagles – Just two years ago Curtis had over 1,100 yards and six touchdowns, but last year he was hurt a lot and this year he’s struggling to maintain the starting job in Philly (he’s still having issues with his knee this preseason as well.)
TE: Tony Scheffler, Broncos – In previous years I was all about Scheffler, thinking that he would form this ultimate connection with Jay Cutler and become the next big thing at the tight end position. However, injuries have prevented him from ever really accomplishing that and now he has Kyle Orton throwing him the ball. He makes a decent backup, just don’t rely on him as your starting TE.
K: Adam Vinatieri, Colts – He’s getting old, had off-season hip and knee surgery…and is an ex-Patriot trader on the Colts…what’s there to like about him?
DEF: Tampa Bay Buccaneers – Most of the players from their defensively-dominant Superbowl team are now gone and they’re being drafted mostly based on brand recognition. Do a little research and pick up another team.