Joseph Addai: Joe Robbins/Getty Images
When I drafted Joseph Addai in a keeper league his rookie year, the Louisiana State product was set to be my franchise RB for the next three years before he'd have to go back into the draft pool. Addai helped me win a championship and was a no-brainer to keep as my first-round pick last year. But boy did the wheels fall off during that '08 campaign.
Addai missed four games, was often dinged up when he did play, finished the season with just 750 total yards (about half what he averaged each of his first two seasons) and saw his YPC drop to a paltry 3.5. On top of that, he mustered just one 100-yard rushing game and failed to cross the goal line after Week 11.
This offseason, the Colts drafted UConn's Donald Brown with their first pick. And word came out Friday that Addai underwent arthroscopic surgery on one of his knees.
"Got it cleaned out," Addai said. "It's feeling good right now."
"He's working through a bit of a rehab situation, but he's in fine physical condition," new coach Jim Caldwell said of Addai."He's been lifting, doing all the things that have been required of him."
With health concerns, competition for touches and a new head coach, Addai's not a surefire first-round pick this year. On the other hand, while I expect the Colts to have Addai and Brown share carries, if I have a shot at snagging Addai in the second round in most drafts, I'll pull the trigger. His upside remains top-five, and I think last year was probably the worst we'll see from him in the next 3-5 years.
There are three things we can say with certainty about Brian Westbrook:
That combination of factors makes him a first-round pick with a significant likelihood of being slowed by injuries and missing game action when you can least afford it.
There are two more things we can say with certainty now:
Despite rumors that the surgery was far more serious, people like SI's own Peter King believe that Westbrook will perform as well this season as he did in '08. Personally, I agree. This appears to have been a relatively minor procedure that should free him from pain in the joint and help his game.
On the other hand, I have a very firm rule about running backs who hit 30, which is that I will always draft younger comparable talent over them. That's because the risk involved in a young player finding success usually is far lower than a 30-year-old RB's risk of being felled by injury. Especially true for a guy like Westbrook, who has a significant history of being dinged up.
We all remember 49ers coach Mike Singletary taking Vernon Davis to task last season -- and the ensuing lovefest in the following weeks. But long before Singletary ripped into VD, fantasy owners dreamed of the chance to give the underachieving tight end an earful.
His first two seasons, we saw the '06 sixth-overall draft pick drop balls left and right, while occasionally making truly spectacular plays. We'd get that taste of stardom and hope only to see him fail time and time again to give us reliable fantasy production.
Last year, though, Davis had little chance to succeed because the Niners' OC was Mike Martz, who still doesn't seem to understand that tight ends are eligible receivers. Martz has since been replaced by Jimmy Raye, who has said he plans to use him less as a blocker and more as a receiver.
"He's also an excellent in-line blocker," Raye said, "but we would like to use him not as much in blocking in pass situations as we would running routes. So we would like to put him in positions where he is a matchup problem for the defense ... provided the protection that we have will allow us to do that."
If that last part can come to fruition, I'd expect this to be Davis' definitive breakout season. However, the offensive line needs to take care of their QBs, who in turn need to produce like professional QBs are supposed to. Otherwise, Davis is going to have to stay in and pass-protect far too often.
Still, with his talent level, I'll target Davis right after the sure-bet tight ends are off the board.
Ben Wallace: AP
Second-year running back Jonathan Stewart still hasn't practiced this offseason due to what's loosely been termed an ankle injury. Rock Hill Herald beat reporter Darin Gantt Tweeted yesterday that he doesn't expect to see the RB break a sweat on the field until training camp.
You'd always like to see a second-year player get in a full offseason workout with his teammates, but it's less of a concern with this particular player. That's because he missed all of last season's OTAs due to toe surgery and churned out an amazing rookie season (836 yards, 10 TDs) without missing a game.
We'll want to be prudent once training camp and the preseason get underway to be sure there isn't more to this than they're letting on. If the joint remains an issue in August, then we'll all need to drop him down our draft boards and move tag-team partner DeAngelo Williams up.