Fantasy Clicks: Burning Questions
Terrell Owens :: Michael J. LeBrecht II/SI
Since most of you still have a few weeks to go before you draft, we're going to try something different. With players reporting to NFL camps, now is the perfect time to really start preparing for the upcoming season. So as you take your draft guides and smart phones to the beach with you the next month, there are a slew of yet to be resolved issues worth watching in the NFL.
So here are 96 burning questions about 32 teams:
1. Does 38-year old Kurt Warner have another huge season in him, or will he revert back to his recent pattern of injuries and ineffectiveness?
2. Will Tim Hightower be able to get enough carries with rookie Chris "Beanie" Wells around to make him useful to have on your roster?
3. Is Steve Breaston a safer pick at wide receiver than Anquan Boldin this season?
4. Does 2008 first-overall pick Matt Ryan take the next step and beome one of the elite quarterbacks in the league or does he suffer a sophomore slump while facing a much rougher schedule in '09 than in '08?
5. Can Michael Turner be as effective in his second season as a featured back despite carrying the ball a staggering 376 times last season?
6. Will Tony Gonzalez's receptions really fall off as dramatically as some people are predicting, or will the Atlanta coaching staff install enough plays for him in the offense to keep the all-time leading pass-catching tight end happy.
7. Is Ray Rice ready to become a lead tailback or will Willis McGahee make a push to get the starting role back?
8. Now that Derrick Mason (and newly signed Drew Bennett) have retired will either Demetrius Williams or Mark Clayton step up as the Ravens go-to guy?
9. With Ray Lewis and Ed Reed aging and Rex Ryan coaching the Jets, is the Ravens defense fantasy-worthy anymore?
10. Can Terrell Owens adapt to life in Buffalo?
11. Will Owens' presence alongside Lee Evans be enough to make Trent Edwards a Top 12 quarterback?
12. How will Marshawn Lynch respond when he returns to the team following his three-game suspension and will he automatically unseat Fred Jackson as Buffalo's main ground gainer?
13. Is there any chance that DeAngelo Williams can duplicate his shockingly productive 2008 season?
14. How much more of the offensive burden will be placed upon the running back of the future, Jonathan Stewart?
15. Will Jake Delhomme bounce back from an erratic 2008, the year of his return from Tommy John surgery, to become at least a useable fantasy quarterback again in 2009?
16. Can Jay Cutler become the first Bears quarterback to eclipse 3,200 yards since Erik Kramer in 1995?
17. Is Matt Forte worth a top three fantasy pick or will the return to health of Kevin Jones sap some stats from the 2008 every-down back?
18. Will the excellent reports from offseason workouts translate into productivity during the season for Earl Bennett, someone with zero career catches?
19. What will be the number of starts made by Brady Quinn, Derek Anderson and Brett Ratliff this season?
20. At age 30 and with a decade of pounding, does Jamal Lewis have one last 1,000-yard season in him?
21. Is it possible that Braylon Edwards' career has fallen so far so fast, or can he stage a major comeback under the new coaching regime?
22. With a full-time starting gig and very little competition on a team that desperately needs him to perform, can Cedric Benson show that his failure in Chicago was simply a fluke?
23. How much like pre-elbow injury Carson Palmer will post-op Carson Palmer look like?
24. What will be more detrimental to the Bengals receiving corps, the loss of T.J. Houshmandzadeh or the return of Chad Ochocinco?
25. How much of the offensive load will second-year speed merchant Felix Jones be asked to carry?
26. Who is the real Roy Williams, the one who caught 82 balls for 1,310 yards in 2006 or the one who caught just 99 balls for 1,504 yards since?
27. Which will be more detrimental to Tony Romo, his split with Terrell Owens or with Jessica Simpson?
28. Is Brandon Marshall able to co-exist with Josh McDaniels' staff and if so, how much will his relationship with Jay Cutler get in the way of what the Broncos need him to do with Kyle Orton leading the team?
29. Will any Broncos running back gain 1,000 yards or will the committee system drain Knowshown Moreno, LaMont Jordan and Correll Buchhalter of their fantasy value?
30. Is second-year receiver Eddie Royal really the best Bronco to have on your 2009 fantasy team?
31. With an improved team around him, will second-year running back Kevin Smith be a fantasy draft bargain this year?
32. How many weeks will it take for new head coach Jim Schwartz to switch from Daunte Culpepper and hand the team to top-pick Matthew Stafford?
33. Can Calvin Johnson's ability overcome double-teaming defenses, his team's dedication to the running game, and questionable ability at quarterback?
34. Will Ryan Grant be the steal of the 2009 draft coming off of a down 2008 season or will Brandon Jackson steal too many of his carries?
35. Who will be a bigger part of the Packers passing game, Donald Driver, James Jones or Jordy Nelson?
36. Can Aaron Rodgers become the first Packer to throw for 4,000 yards in back-to-back seasons since Brett Favre did it in 1998 and 1999?
37. Will a handcuff-worthy backup to Steve Slaton emerge in camp, or will Slaton owners go into the season without a net?
38. Will there be anyone foolish (or gutsy) enough to have strong-armed backup quarterback Rex Grossman, the replacement for Sage Rosenfels, on their roster?
39. Can Owen Daniels increase his touchdown production to move him into the second tier of fantasy tight ends?
40. How will selecting Donald Brown in the first round effect the future of Joseph Addai?
41. Can Anthony Gonzalez effectively step into the slot vacated by Marvin Harrison or will rookie Austin Collie exceed expectations and keep Gonzalez in the slot?
42. How much does Adam Vinatieri have left in his one-time magical leg?
43. Can Maurice Jones-Drew retain his mojo while becoming a featured back for the first time, or will he wither under the added workload?
44. Does the newly signed Torry Holt have anything left in the tank, and even if he doesn't, is he still the best Jaguars receiver?
45. How much longer does David Garrard have as the starting quarterback and who might be in line to replace him?
46. What role, if any, will Larry Johnson have in Todd Haley's system, and if he's not a factor in the running game, will it by Kolby Smith, Jamaal Charles or even someone else who picks up the slack?
47. With just one year of starting experience since high school and a gazillion dollar contract, is Matt Cassel up to the task of being an NFL franchise quarterback?
48. Will Bobby Engram be the force in point-per-reception leagues playing at Arrowhead as he was in Seattle?
49. Will Ronnie Brown return to his pre-knee re-construction self and rise into the top 5 fantasy running backs, or will he remain in a timeshare with the aging Ricky Williams?
50. Can Ted Ginn Jr. be counted on as a top wide receiver or will a virtually unknown like Devone Bess seize the role?
51. How will rookie Pat White fit into the Wildcat offense and will he have any fantasy impact?
52. Now that the Brett Favre saga is behind them, who will the starting quarterback be, incumbent Tarvaris Jackson or the newly acquired Sage Rosenfels?
53. Was 2008 just a fluke for tight end Visanthe Shiancoe (596 yards, 7 TDs) or can he become a solid starting fantasy tight end option?
54. How high will Bernard Berrian's numbers rise should Rosenfels become the starter?
55. Is Tom Brady back at full strength and if yes, how will the constant changes in offensive coaching personnel affect his record-breaking offense?
56. Was 38-year old Joey Galloway's 2008 season (13 rec., 138 yards) an indication that he's done or can a stint in Foxborough resurrect his career.
57. Will anyone emerge as the frontrunner from the backfield committee of Fred Taylor, Laurnece Maroney, Kevin Faulk, Sammy Morris and BenJarvus Green-Ellis or do the Patriots runners remain in fantasy oblivion?
58. How will Reggie Bush respond to an NFL workload following offseason microfracture knee surgery?
59. Will Pierre Thomas seize the starting running back job and if so, how effective will he be in a record-setting passing offense?
60. After throwing for 5,000-yards and 34 touchdowns, what can Drew Brees possibly do as an encore?
New York Giants
61. Who emerges as the Giants starting wide receivers after the departures of both Plaxico Burress and Amani Toomer?
62. Can the previously inconsistent Lawrence Tynes be as effective this season as ancient John Carney (143 points) was last year?
63. Who steps in behind Brandon Jacobs in the Giants formidable running game, Ahmad Bradshaw, Danny Ware or Andre Brown?
New York Jets
64. Can Mark Sanchez become the face of a franchise in dire need of a savior, and if so, is there any chance he'll be successful as a rookie?
65. How much will AFC rushing leader Thomas Jones be affected by competition for carries from Leon Washington and rookie Shonn Greene?
66. Will the Jets defense emerge as one of the league's best as Rex Ryan's charges in Baltimore were or is the learning curve for the aggressive scheme too long for 2009 results?
67. Can JaMarcus Russell hold off the challenge for his starting quarterback job of Jeff Garcia, or will the veteran put a charge into a long dormant passing game?
68. What percentage of the running game will go to Darren McFadden and how much will Justin Fargas retain?
69. Can any Raiders receiver crack the 1,000-yard mark for the first time since Randy Moss left after the 2005 season?
70. How many snaps will the oft-injured Brian Westbrook be able to handle this season, and if the answer is "not many," can the rookie LeSean McCoy be more effective than Correll Buchhalter has in the past?
71. With L.J. Smith gone to Balitmore, will Brent Celek's flashes of brilliance as a part-time player translate as a starter?
72. Can first-round pick Jeremy Maclin pass Kevin Curtis on the depth chart and match or even surpass the excellent rookie season DeSean Jackson enjoyed last year?
73. We know that Rashard Mendenhall will play a major role in the rushing game, but does that mean that veteran Willie Parker is being phased out?
74. Can Santonio Holmes ride his success he enjoyed as Super Bowl MVP to increased fantasy relevance this season?
75. Is there any chance that the modern Steel Curtain Defense can live up to the fantasy expectations placed upon it for a second straight season?
76. Are reports of LaDainian Tomlinson's demise grossly overrated or is the end of the line near for LT2?
77. Can Darren Sproles be a weekly fantasy starting running back even with Tomlinson healthy?
78. Did we see the best of Philip Rivers and Vincent Jackson last year or can they build on their breakout years and become one of the AFC's best pass-catch duos?
79. Will Alex Smith carry the momentum he gained in offseason workouts to the top of the depth chart or will Mike Singletary choose incumbent Shaun Hill as the team's signalcaller?
80. Does an increased reliance on the running game make Frank Gore a Top 5 player again or will the added carries be too much for him to take?
81. Will the real Vernon Davis please stand up?
82. After his last two seasons in which he threw 22 touchdowns and 28 interceptions, how is Marc Bulger still an NFL starting quarterback?
83. Can offensive coordinator Pat Shurmur's idea of getting Steven Jackson the ball a majority of the time on offense somehow work, or will his history of injuries torpedo his best laid plans?
84. Who besides Donnie Avery in Blue and Gold will emerge to be counted on for more than 20 catches?
85. How will Matt Haselbeck fare in his comeback from a serious back injury while playing with a brand new playbook that he helped concoct?
86. Will rushing guru Greg Knapp have enough of a positive influence on Julius Jones to keep him off of fantasy waiver wires and in fantasy lineups this season?
87. Why does everyone insist that T.J. Houshmandzadeh will see a dramatic decrease in productivity upon his return to the Pacific Northwest?
88. When was the last time the Buccaneers defense went un-owned in your league, something sure to happen following new head coach Raheem Morris' veteran roster purge.
89. Does Josh Freeman truly have a chance to start at quarterback or is the job a competition between Luke McCown and Byron Leftwich?
90. Is there any way that Earnest Graham can have a significant role with the Bucs forking over $9-million guaranteed for two seasons?
91. Will we ever hear from Vince Young again?
92. How much did LenDale White play himself into Jeff Fisher's doghouse last year and is there any way he can recapture the carries he earned in scoring 15 times last year with Chris Johnson around?
93. Will Nate Washington progress as a starter in Tennessee as he did in building a career as a third wideout in Pittsburgh?
94. With all of the rumors of his pending replacement swirling around all offseason, will Jason Campbell enter the 2009 season with something to prove or will he prove his critics right?
95. Will the defensive line additions of Albert Haynesworth and Brian Orakpo cause enough chaos up front to make the Redskins worth owning?
96. Will the perceived rift between Clinton Portis and head coach Jim Zorn be forgotten or will the eccentric Portis lose carries to Ladell Betts again in '09?
If you want more updates like these, especially once fantasy football season kicks off, follow me on Twitter at @SI_DavidSabino.