Joseph Addai: Scott Boehm/Getty Images
In my final draft last week, I rolled the dice on Joseph Addai in Round 5. As it turned out, I was able to add rookie Donald Brown in Round 7. I don't think I could have asked for much more upside from a Round 5 RB than Addai, and having him handcuffed by Brown gives me the backfield for a powerful Colts offense.
Of course, there are some good reasons why Addai has been available that late in drafts this year. His fantasy performance last season was a complete mess. All of his numbers were career lows, as he amassed just 700 total yards and seven scores. A battered Addai -- he missed games and was slowed by hamstring and shoulder injuries -- was even being outperformed by journeyman Dominic Rhodes late in the season.
Then the Colts drafted Brown in the first round and fantasyheads went running for the hills, afraid of a straight up RBBC in Indianapolis or that Addai could be completely replaced by Brown. With all that against him, it's no wonder you could draft him that late or buy him on the cheap in a trade right now.
Granted, there's no way you could have drafted him in the top five or so like the previous two seasons. But that's exactly the point. If the only things that kept him from being a top-five back in '08 were injuries and a banged up offensive line, then it's entirely possible that he could return to that production in '09 if he and his O-line stay healthy.
In Week 1, Addai had five receptions for 35 yards and 17 carries for 42 yards and a score, while Brown caught two passes for 16 yards and 11 carries for 33 yards. Addai saw most of his action in the first half, while Brown got most of the work following Addai's fumble early in the second half.
Brown certainly has plenty of talent, enough that I would have drafted him even if I didn't have Addai, but I'll honestly be surprised if Addai doesn't handle about two-thirds of the touches. If that holds true, Addai will be at worst an RB2 -- and at best, a top-five back.
I was never on board with all of the Matt Leinart hype when he came out of college, but sometimes a player's situation dictates that you give him consideration even if you're a non-believer.
Leinart's immediate situation is as a back-up to potential Hall of Fame quarterback Kurt Warner, who just led his team to the Super Bowl. That's why Leinart is sitting on waivers in most leagues. However, in deeper leagues and those that stress QB scoring or start two QBs, he's worth consideration as a free-agent pick-up due to his potential upside.
That upside would come as the starting QB for a potent offense that features two of the best receivers in the game -- Larry Fitzgerald and Anquan Boldin -- and a quality No. 3 option in Steve Breaston. All that stands between Leinart and that starting gig is a brittle 38-year-old Warner.
While I still don't believe that Leinart will equal the hype of being a "franchise" QB, he does have a big enough arm to get the ball downfield. And though he hasn't played a lot of games, he does have three years of learning the game from the sideline. An understanding of the offense, great weapons, a good arm and a likelihood of running a powerful offense for a significant stretch of the season make Leinart an ideal QB to stash on your bench.
It's well-documented that the days of tight ends being the dregs of fantasy leagues are over. I still like to get the elite guys at any position if I don't have to reach far, so any chance I had to snag Jason Witten or Antonio Gates, I did so. If I didn't get one of them, I took advantage of the depth at tight end and waited until the last few rounds and looked for upside.
Twice last weekend, I ended up selecting Jeremy Shockey -- Round 12 and Round 13. I though he was the ideal late-round flier, and was thrilled with his Week 1 performance (four catches for 31 yards and two TDs).
The reasons no one took Shockey several rounds earlier are obvious: He's usually injured (never played a full 16-game slate) and his debut season in New Orleans was disappointing (zero TDs).
Predictably, the main reason why Shockey underachieved in '08 was due to injuries -- specifically, he entered camp with a sore groin, damaged it in Week 3 and missed four weeks due to hernia surgery. He was never really at full speed again.
The upside, though, of having a healthy Shockey in that high-flying Saints passing game is mighty tantalizing. In the 12 games he played in '08, he had at least five catches seven times. His production also looks a lot better when you note that it only took him those 12 games to rack up 50 catches and nearly 500 yards receiving.
Also, while it is true that he's never played 16 games in any of his seven seasons, Shockey has played at least 14 games five times and 15 games four times. So while he's prone to injury, he's also prone to play through it most of the time. If he's still on your waiver wire, give him a shot.
Ronnie Brown: Bob Rosato/SI
I'm really surprised how little love there is out there for Ronnie Brown right now. I think a lot of people are going to regret that by season's end.
Naysayers point to his debut in the Wildcat in Week 3 last season when he racked up 113 yards and four touchdowns and his next game, when he tallied 125 yards and another score. Take out those couple of games, and the 1,100-plus total yards and 10 scores he posted in '08 aren't that impressive they say. They also point to a fairly even split in workload between Brown and Ricky Williams last year.
Good point. Except that this isn't last year. It's 2009. Last year, he was working his way back from a torn ACL. In 2009, Brown is another year removed from that procedure and is entering his physical prime at age 27. Oh, and that extra year also means that his tag-team partner Williams is another year older (32) and another year slower.
While Brown and Williams split the Week 1 workload pretty evenly (Brown had 13 touches, Williams nine) I expect Brown to get the lion's share of carries by midseason at the latest. He has tremendous upside running behind a good O-line and if things click could easily finish in the top 5-10 RBs, especially in PPR leagues.