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TGIF: Fantasy Football Draft, 2010

Ray Rice

With the conclusion of the 2009 season, it is time to start looking ahead to the future. Although it may be too early to accurately project what the first round of the draft will be next season, it is still fun to think about.

I have gotten into the habit of making my prediction for future drafts and I have decided to keep the tradition going. I made my first round projection for the 2009 season about a year ago, so I now choose to take a crack at what I think the first round of 2010 drafts should look like. Enjoy!

2010 Fantasy Football Draft

1. Adrian Peterson (RB), Minnesota Vikings

Fantasy football’s first overall pick should embody one thing: consistency. AP has officially earned everyone’s trust after his third straight dominating season.

Peterson didn’t match his rushing yds from last season, but he did rush for an impressive 1,383 yds and a career-best 18 rushing TD, which was tops in the NFL. Even though he couldn’t match last season’s rushing totals (thanks in part to receiving less carries), Peterson has now developed great pass-catching abilities, catching a career-high 43 passes for 436 yds. That gave him over 1,800 total yds and 18 total TD.

There were only three games all season where Peterson didn’t have over 100 total yds and/or a TD. If you want the best production from any one single player, then Peterson is the #1 choice. We had the Priest Holmes era, the LaDainian Tomlinson era, and now we are in the Adrian Peterson era.

2. Chris Johnson (RB), Tennessee Titans

Johnson came into the season in a dual backfield. Some were afraid that teammate LenDale White would steal goal line carries and valuable TD’s.

Well when the dust settled, Johnson emerged as the lone runner in the Titans backfield. He carried the ball 358 times and became only the 6th back in NFL history to rush for 2,000 yds in a single season, ending with 2,006 yds and 14 rushing TD. Johnson also added 50 receptions for 503 yds and 2 receiving TD.

On a game-by-game basis, Johnson was in a league of his own. He rushed for over 100 yds in 12 games, including 11 straight to end the season. The only reason I don’t rank him #1 is for the simple fact that it is unreasonable to think Johnson will reach close to 2,000 rush yds again. However, he is now the clear #1 in Tennessee and 1,400 rushing yds plus the 400-500 receiving yds is still likely. One more year of elite play will make him #1 next season.

3. Maurice Jones-Drew (RB), Jacksonville Jaguars

I had my doubts about MJD, but I was glad to be wrong. Jones-Drew flourished in his new featured role and rushed for 1,391 yds and 15 TD. He kept up his usual pass-catching duties and added 374 receiving yds on 53 receptions.

His ypc actually went up (4.5) with his increased workload and he fumbled just twice in over 300 carries. Everything hyped up about Jones-Drew was absolutely justified and he will be the main focus of the offense again next season.

4. Ray Rice (RB), Baltimore Ravens

I confused Ray Rice for Lex Luger during the season because he was the total package.

Rice was what Matt Forte should have been this season, which was a great runner putting up high receiving totals. Rice led all running backs with 78 receptions (and led his team in the category) and 702 receiving yds. All of this was in addition to his 1,339 rushing yds and 7 rushing TD. Teammate Willis McGahee poached 12 TD from Rice, but even if Rice puts up the same numbers next season, he is still among the elite.

5. Jamaal Charles (RB), Kansas City Chiefs

The prospect of taking a player on the Kansas City offense in the first round may scare you, but Charles is the real deal.

After taking over for Larry Johnson in Week 8, Charles rolled off five games with 100+ rushing yds, totaling 1,004 rush yds in the team’s final nine games and averaging 6.0 ypc. In that time, he found the endzone seven times and showed the ability to catch with 40 receptions.

QB Matt Cassel is clearly not what drives the offense and Charles shows blazing speed and great hands. Charles will continue the great fantasy production that Priest Holmes and Larry Johnson once bestowed upon us.

6. Michael Turner (RB), Atlanta Falcons

Turner had 10 TD in his first nine games before an ankle injury derailed his season. He was averaging over 140 yds per game in three games prior to the injury and was showing his 2008 form.

For the season, he averaged 4.9 ypc, which put him on pace to outperform his breakout 2008 season. Just write this season off as bad luck due to injury. With the Falcons missing the playoffs this year, they will have a much easier schedule next season, which is nothing but good news for Turner.

7. DeAngelo Williams (RB), Carolina Panthers

Another player who lost his season due to injury, Williams was in line to outdo his 2008 season.  Prior to injuring his ankle, Williams was enjoying a nice stretch where he rushed for 762 yds in six games.

Averaging 5.2 ypc, Williams was clearly headed for his place among the elite. Teammate Jonathan Stewart handled the load in the absence of Williams and both ended up with over 1,000 rushing yds for the season.

Williams should return next season fully healthy and should get more carries than Stewart. DeAngelo’s big play ability and ypc will boost him back to among the best next season.

8. Steven Jackson (RB), St. Louis Rams

When he plays a full season, he can really bring the goods. The Rams offense ranked 29th in the league in total offense, but you can’t point the finger at Jackson, who somehow managed to rush for 1,416 yds.

Yes, he only scored 4 TD on the season, but it isn’t his fault the Rams couldn’t get the ball down field. He also caught over 50 passes, bringing his total yds for the season to over 1,700. If he can come closer to 10 total scores next season in addition to his rushing and receiving yds, then he can bust into the top five fantasy backs next year.

9. Aaron Rodgers (QB), Green Bay Packers

Rodgers has two straight seasons of 4,000+ yds and 28+ TD. Not only that, but he has rushed for at least 4 TD in each of his last two seasons, adding a very valuable dynamic to his fantasy stock.

The rushing ability gives him the slight edge over Drew Brees for fantasy QB supremacy. Not to mention, he has weapons at his disposal in the passing game and the rushing attack in Green Bay is grossly overrated.

Imagine how much more he could have done this year if he wasn’t sacked 50 times. Yeah, scary isn’t it?

10. Cedric Benson (RB), Cincinnati Bengals

He was Cincinnati’s workhorse on offense and rushed for 1,251 yds in 13 games. If he didn’t miss three games, he would have ran for over 1,500 yds. This was just the first season where he handled 300+ carries, so don’t expect wear and tear to settle in next season.

Cincy has chosen to be a running team and Benson is a lock to carry 20 times a game next season, which will lead to some major yardage totals in 2010.

11. Larry Fitzgerald (WR), Arizona Cardinals

Fitzy hauled in 97 passes (3rd highest of career) and set a new personal best with 13 TD. So what’s the problem? Well, he actually barely managed to crack 1,000 receiving yds with 1,092.

Arizona was just not airing it out as much this season as evident by Fitzgerald’s longest play this season, which was just 34 yds. The revival of the running game is partly to blame and QB Kurt Warner threw for over 800 less yds this season as compared to 2008.

However, Fitzgerald is still the best receiver in fantasy and should put up the same numbers next season, but hopefully with more total yds. I just hope Kurt Warner has one more year left in him.

12. Frank Gore (RB), San Francisco 49ers

He salvaged his season with 452 rush yds and 4 TD in his final four games, and ended the year with 1,120 yds and 10 rushing TD. Showing versatility, he also had 52 receptions for 406 yds and 3 TD.

The 4.9 ypc, 52 receptions, and double-digit scores are actually very encouraging. The 49ers managed to put forth a respectable passing game this season with QB Alex Smith and TE Vernon Davis. If WR Michael Crabtree can take the next step next season, then the passing game will open up Gore and the running game.

If Crabtree and Davis fall short of expectations, then Gore will be featured a lot more. Either way, it is a win-win situation for Gore.

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One comment for “TGIF: Fantasy Football Draft, 2010”

  1. I never thought of equating Ray Rice to Lex Luger before, haha.

    The Yahoo! guys think that Chris Johnson is the clear No. 1, but I think I agree with you though.

    Posted by KC | January 9, 2010, 1:03 pm

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