2009 PPR Sleepers: Pre-season Projections

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If you’re anything like me when it comes to picking sleepers, you go through the same routine every year. First, you establish sleepers based on your personal preference and creative thought.  Now turn back the clock to 2007; You and everybody else knows that Reggie Brown had a tremendous rookie year in 2006 and that he is a very gifted athlete with great hands .  Second, you begin to second-guess yourself.  You don’t know whether he is a good route runner, or if he has a good grasp on Philadelphia’s offense, or if he is a high character guy or not.  Third, you decide to Google,” 2007 fantasy football sleepers” and Rotoworld tells you he is going to be the WR1 on a great team with a good QB and a good O-Line in a pass-happy offense.

So naturally, you decide to draft Reggie Brown; a bit too early but you got the guy you wanted.

As it turns out, Brown and McNabb have terrible chemistry.  He loses his passion for the game because he isn’t getting enough looks and he drops balls left and right.  In week 7, when he has 17 receptions and 0 TD’s, you finally decide to drop him and realize that your 4th round pick was a complete waste.

Then, your furious because all your friends begin to chastise you for wasting such a valuable pick so you decide you need somebody to blame.  By that time, however, you forgot Rotoworld gave you that terrible information and no one is left to blame but yourself.

Fear not, reader.  We will finally put an end to all this.

Welcome to Fantasy Forte’s Sleeper-Tracker.  An interactive sleeper-tracker that establishes 15 sleepers in the Pre-season and follows those 15 players throughout the course of the season.  Each week, we will give you an update on those players so that we are held accountable for the advice we give you.

Commence Fantasy Forte’s Sleeper-Tracker 2009.

Quarterbacks____________________________

Matt Schaub, Houston: It’s easy for readers to say that this isn’t much of a surprise and we would agree with you.  However, Matt Schaub’s ADP is still only 73rd overall.  With potent weapons in Andre Johnson, Steve Slaton, Kevin Walter and Owen Daniels and an ever-improving offensive line, we have Matt Schaub ranked the 5th best quarterback.  Barring injury, I can say Schaub is headed to Honolulu without a doubt in my mind.

Joe Flacco, Baltimore: Everyone has heard of Flacco’s talent, but they still haven’t completely bought in.  Let me try to do some convincing.  Flacco is coming off a solid rookie campaign in 2008 and is boasting a 94.3 QB Rating with 470 yards this pre-season, 3rd most in the league.  Offensive Coordinator Cam Cameron has said the Ravens will attempt to shift away from their run first mentality and feature a more sophisticated pass offense.  Also, Baltimore has the 6th easiest schedule in the NFL and the 8th ranked offensive line.

Matt Hasselbeck, Seattle: Based on ADP (106), Hasselbeck is falling too far in drafts.  While his offensive line is a bit of a concern, the impact of incumbant T.J. Houshmandzadeh to go along with a very deep recieving core, along with the emergence of TE John Carlson is too hard to ignore.  Look for Seattle to be very competitive with it’s cake-NFC West schedule and for Hasselbeck to be leading the charge.

Running Backs___________________________

Ray Rice, Baltimore: Ray Rice is a stud waiting to emerge.  This former Rutgers star has been sitting behind LeRon McClain and Willis McGahee long enough.  Ray Rice possesses tremendous ADP value while ranking first among all starting RB’s in receptions this pre-season with 12.  He’s got a very solid offensive line and an even easier schedule.  Ray Rice will be a PPR stud.

Darren Sproles, San Diego: Everybody knows what Sproles is capable of, but they know he just needs his shot.  LaDanian Tomlinson is still a top running back but has been routinely nagged by injuries year in and year out.  Should anything happen to Tomlinson, look for Sproles to hop in without missing a beat.  Question for banter:  Is it possible that Darren Sproles the more talented back?

Ahmad Bradshaw, New York Giants: I’ve said it once, I’ve said it a thousand times.  Do not trust starting running backs with major injury concerns and talented back-ups.  With his size, Brandon Jacobs is guaranteed an injury at some point this season and Bradshaw is now the sure back-up with Derrick Ward out of the picture.  The G-men have the best offensive line in the NFL and a run-first attitude.  Ahmad Bradshaw will have a surprisingly productive year.

Donald Brown, Indianapolis: Brown, a former UConn standout, led the nation in rushing last year but is considered Joseph Addai’s back-up, for now.  I don’t believe Addai addresses the running back needs of Indinapolis, which are a durable, one cut and explode style running back.  Look for Brown to replace Addai in this explosive offense sooner rather than later.

LeSean McCoy, Philadelphia: If you can’t already tell, we at Fantasy Forte are big on back-up running backs behind aging stars in potent offenses.  Brian Westbrook is a favorite around here but his injury concerns are too glaring to ignore.  McCoy is an extemely talented back out of Pittsburgh who fell into the laps of Philly in the second round.  As is the case with many, should anything happen to Westbrook, look for McCoy to have a breakout rookie campaign.

Wide Receivers__________________________

Devin Hester, Chicago: This is really all I need to show you, however, people are still not convinced and I don’t understand it.  Not only is Hester the most talented player in the NFL with a ball in his hands, he has the easiest schedule in the NFL, not to mention the strongest arm in the NFL in Jay Cutler over Kyle Orton/Rex Grossman.  If there were any scenario that left a fantasy owner with Devin Hester as a WR3, it wouldn’t matter who the other receivers were, it would be a very productive bunch.

Earl Bennett, Chicago: Yes I said it.  Earl Bennett.  What is it that I’m saying you ask?  The Chicago Bears will finally have a passing game.  Earl Bennett, meet our readers.  Readers, meet Eddie Royal 2.0.  While teams focus in on Hester’s deep playmaking ability, Cutler and his old friend from Vanderbilt will be producing PPR heaven alongside The Ambassador.  But most importantly, you have to like the Bears schedule this year.

Derrick Mason, Baltimore: See Joe Flacco.  No matter how well Flacco performs, Mason will still put up an 80-90 catch season, as he has done 5 out of the last 6 years.  My bet is he will have over 90 catches.

Josh Morgan, San Francisco: While his quarterback situation is a big question mark, Josh Morgan remains one of only a few constants on the 49er’s roster. Michael Crabtree is still meandering around the Bay thinking he deserves top 5 money. Meanwhile, the second year WR from VaTech is quietly becomming Shaun Hill’s favorite target. Although the speedster had only 20 catches last year, there was a clear progression toward the end of the season. With an ADP of  119, look to nab this value pick in the 11th round as a solid depth pick.

Braylon Edwards, Cleveland: It is no stretch by any means to consider Braylon’s 2008 an utter disaster.  Edwards lead the NFL in drops in 2008 with 16 and scored 14 less touchdowns than the year prior.  Edwards has a new found mental approach this season as well as a strong showing this pre-season which should restore his confidence.  Look for Edwards to average-out his 2007 and 2008 seasons with about 70 catches and 8 TD’s.

Tight Ends_____________________________

Zach Miller, Oakland: Many already consider Miller one of the most underrated players in the league partially because of his team but also because of his low touchdown totals.  Last year, Miller only caught one TD pass but reports out Oakland say that will change this year.  Miller posseses tremendous size and excellent hands and could be one of the most talented tight ends in the NFL.  JaMarcus Russell and Miller have established great rhythm so look for that to show in Zack Miller’s stats from this point forward.

JerMichael Finley, Green Bay: It would be too easy to substitute Greg Olson in here so I’m going to take a leap of faith.  Finley has the ability and the right situation to become the next Antonio Gates.  He is a huge red-zone target for Aaron Rodgers but must refine his blocking ability to surpass Donald Lee on the depth chart.  Picking Finley here over Olson, Carlson and Fasano is quite a sexy pick, indeed.  If I’m wrong about Finley, I think our readers will forgive me.  If I’m right about Finley, they will officially become Fantasy Forte Fanatics.

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