Much like the IDPs, I decided to use the following criteria for my search parameters:
• a three-year view of the stats (for stability)
• players whose performance had improved each year (for quality)
• a WCOFF score which exceeded the positional average in 2008 (for significance)
Mighty Max was able to highlight several players likely to continue their upward trends. A few may be familiar, others not; according to Max, all of them will likely improve their performances this year. Here's the resulting set of players Max believes will continue to post improved fantasy numbers in 2009:
As with all statistical analysis applied to human actions, it is not enough to just look at the numbers. You need to have an understanding of the situation of each player.
• Matt Cassel and Aaron Rodgers had really strong seasons in 2008, their first as starters. It is, however, a bit of a cheat to claim that they have been improving for three consecutive seasons, as they barely got their butts of the bench from 2006-2007.
• Jay Cutler has been coming along the way a first-round QB should -- but how will the dearth of WR talent in Chicago effect his 2009 output?
• A trio of seasoned vets -- Kurt Warner, Donovan McNabb and Drew Brees -- continue to improve, and there's no reason to believe there's going to be a drop-off in their collective performance in 2009.
• The real gem here might be David Garrard. The Jaguars signal-caller has been underrated for a couple of years now and he has been without any real playmakers at WR for his entire tenure in Jacksonville. If veteran Torry Holt can bounce back, Garrard may have the go-to receiver he has longed for ...
• Not too much to choose from among the runners, which surprised me quite a bit. This means that (a) all the really exciting runners are sophomores, or (b) the league-wide RBBC mentality has been playing havoc with us poor fantasy owners.
• Kevin Faulk is an interesting name on this short list; he keeps getting better, but his overall production merits only a "bye week replacement" rating.
• Figures. The position with the most candidates is the one that matters the least in fantasy football. But there's still an interesting story or two here...
• As a young biologist in college, I was taught an important lesson by Prof. Burdowski: sometimes, you can learn more by what your hypothesis disproves than what you set out to prove. Well, for all of you who set out to prove that Tony Gonzalez is old and washed up... think again. The man is ageless.
• There's a lot of static on this list, mainly because the TE position simply doesn't average too many points; however, it's clear that Owen Daniels and Dallas Clark need to be considered mid-to-low TE1 candidates.
• The one guy on this list which may surprise people is Bo Scaife. He's been performing well and is still fairly unknown. Heck, he's not even listed as the starter on the Titans' depth chart, so you might be able to snag him really late in your draft.
• It almost goes without saying but ... Larry Fitzgerald is awesome.
• Greg Jennings and Roddy White can no longer be considered "undervalued", but it's nice to see them appear on this list -- it validates a lot of what Mighty Max was saying last season about them.
• Lance Moore came out of nowhere in 2008 to put up a very solid performance. While I like his chances in 2009, we'll have to wait and see how the whole Marques Coltson situation plays out.
• Kevin Walter may be the WR2 type who outperforms his draft slot. Not only has he been improving steadily, but he's playing on an emerging offense opposite one of the top two or three receivers in the game (Andre Johnson), so he'll see plenty of one-on-one coverage in 2009.
There you have it, an early look at the Offensive Overachievers for 2009. Check back frequently for more unique analysis aimed at giving you more weapons for your upcoming fantasy football battles!