Friday, September 08, 2006

Freebies for the Wannabe by Doc Diablo

One last previewing voice to be heard. Another friend of LOCKERROOM & Fanball, ediablo, wishes to weigh in and, reading it, I agree that he should. So it shall be written, so it shall be done...

...I decided to write up a list of players to look out for in the upcoming season. These are all players likely on the WW in most leagues, that when given the opportunity thru injury or demand, will likely be a good diamond in the rough for needy teams. These are all players that could likely get a shot or already have a shot at some points during the season, and are in the position to excel. Most don’t have any clue when it comes to these players, so keep your trap shut about it, as it will pay-off by the truckload as long as people don’t know about them. Enough fluff, here’s the goods broken down by position.
Phillip Rivers: Rivers is my sleeper QB of the year in all leagues. Most are discounting him as a “rookie”, not realizing he has 2 valuable years of acclimation to the pro game. He walks into a situation with undoubtedly the two best dump off players in the league with LT and Gates. If that weren’t enough, he actually has a cast of relatively talented WRs, both bringing big game ability and consistency that most QBs could only dream of. More about that later.
Chris Simms: I wouldn’t go so far as to say that Simms is the most talented Qb I have ever seen, but he has shown some serious flashes of talent. He’s in a situation with a relatively talented WR core, and 3 great receiving backs, as well as a budding 2nd-year TE. He has a decent line to keep the pressure off, and the talents to get the job done. But the thing that gives me a moment of pause is not the player on the field, but the coach at the helm. Chucky is pretty well reputed as the genius that resurrected the career of over-rated slinger Rich Gannon. He brings a good offensive plan to the table that will cater to Simms’ skill set. Keep an eye on this one.
Dave Campbell: Brunell is garbage, plain and simple. He is garbage, he has always been garbage, and he will always be garbage. He is, quite possibly, a candidate for most over-rated player in history to keep his job. Campbell, on the other hand, brings raw talent and monster ability to the table. If Brunell gets injured, or is simply Brunell, Campbell is defiantly worth looking at.
RBs: (these are a bit tougher, since no position is more picked clean then RBs, it’s possible some of these are on waivers, and it’s possible some are not)
Jerious Norwood: Now that Duckett is gone, Norwood becomes the primary backup to Dunn. He is actually, to me, worth a roster spot on many squads already, as I just don’t see Atlanta risking Dunn at the goal line much. Thus utilizing Norwood in more of an RBBC style with sprinklings of Griffith as well. You hit pay dirt when/if Dunn gets hurt. He has a decent history of injury, and is well over the wrong side of 30, so it’s far from out of the question, especially when considering his (possibly phantom) minor groin-injury throughout preseason.
Brandon Jacobs: No player has impressed me more in preseason then Brandon Jacobs. If this guy could catch and pass-protect, he’d be a starter on 90% of the teams in the league, and it still remains to be seen whether he can do either of those. It’s hard to prove it when you have a guy like Tiki ahead of you, who can do everything to exceptional levels. Speaking of Tiki, he’s well on the wrong side of 30, coming off a year where he had over 400 touches (which usually spells doom to even the most gifted of players). If/when he goes down, there is no doubt in my mind that Jacobs will get his shot to prove his intangibles. Whether he can catch or block is irrelevant, he can run over, around, and thru just about anyone in the league now that he has learned to keep closer to the ground.
San Fran Backfield: This is my deepest sleeper of the year (in other words, keep your trap SHUT about this one), but still needs some hashing out. When Barlow was traded to NYJ, it was all the rage, and the story of many fantasy discussions. For some reason, no one even acknowledged the rather large hole it placed behind one of the leagues more injury-prone RBs. I paid much less attention to who would be the man in NYJ (yawn), and all of a sudden became very interested in who would be Barlow’s replacement in SF. Being that every Ffer’s friend, Norv Turner, was now the OC for SF. Norv has never failed to turn a talented back into a fantasy God in about as long as I can remember. Even on a team as hapless as the Raiders, he made a top 10 RB out of Lamont Jordan. A closer look at the backfield revealed not one, but two very capable backs, both with good receiving abilities (that Norm covets). Last year’s 3rd RB, 3rd-year Maurice Hicks (who parlayed his minimal playing time into some pretty nice returns), and newcomer 4th round pick, converted QB to WR to RB Michael Robinson, who many thought was the steal of the draft. As of right now, I would say the backup is still Hicks, who has more experience, and is likely much better in pass-protection, but Robinson made a strong case for himself in preseason flashing ridiculous skills, a nose for the stripe, and, being an ex-QB, brings versatility to the offense. If anyone has any more information about how this backfield is shaping up (like maybe a few homers out there who know their shit), please contact me at .
Bobby Engram: I’ll admit, Engram was an after-thought to me until just recently. With the recent news of Seattle making a play for disgruntled wideout, Deion Branch from New England, it immediately sent up red flags to the more astute Ffer. My first assumption was that Djax’s knee was much worse then most were thinking it was. However, I am now hearing a different story that could just as easily be true. Apparently, Nate Burleson is not picking up the system quite as well as hoped. I have no evidence to support either theory, but I know full well that Seattle was definitely shopping for help at WR. Either reason is plausible, but neither is good for Burleson, as even if it was Djax, Burley is not capable of playing 1st WR. In the end, the only player who could possibly benefit from this news, aside from, obviously, Shaun Alexander, is Bobby Engram.
Vincent Jackson: Vincent is virtually unheard of in most circles, and a look on the web would tell you he is the 3rd WR in SD. What it wont tell you though, is that he is easily the most physically gifted WR in SD. If you buy into my belief about Rivers being this year’s surprise at QB, you’d be smart to realize that early on in training camp Rivers and VJ had some pretty good chemistry. Jackson has been battling a few minor injuries, but I believe is ready to go. As this offense starts to take off, watch for Jackson to emerge as the big-time WR in this offense, as old-man McCardell takes on more of a possession role. I easily foresee this offense becoming more explosive and prototypical this year, and with the talent that is in place, it will have so many dimensions, defenses are not gonna know what hit them.
Doug Gabriel: As mentioned in the Bobby Engram description, Branch is not happy in NE. NE is also not happy with their WRs without Branch. In comes Doug Gabriel. Gabriel is an electrifying talent who was buried on the depth chart in Oakland. I don’t think it takes a rocket surgeon to realize that he fills a pretty massive void. For now, he is likely still on the waivers, as he will need to learn the offense first, but I look for him to step forward as the main guy within a few weeks. Obviously, to temper the excitement, he still plays in NE, where WRs rarely garner huge numbers (have they ever?), but he can’t possibly be any worse then a bye week fill-in once he grasps the offense, and brings a game breaking ability that NE, I don’t believe, has had since Glenn left.
Jermaine Wiggins: Easily my sleeper WR of the year aside from the obvious ones. Wiggins has never been the sexy pick, neither figuratively nor realistically. What Wiggins has been is relatively productive to at least average standards when healthy and given the opportunity. Enter Brad Childress. Childress brings an offense with him that is focused around both the RB and the TE. It’s by no means an exciting offense, but it gets the job done, and allows the defense to do it’s job. Wiggins has been given the “best shape of his career” tag this offseason, and normally, I pay no attention to such plugs. However, I happen to know for a fact that it’s true. I’ve seen the man in person…he’s definitely in the best shape I have ever seen him in. If the offense holds true, and that rather expensive Oline gels, I think average numbers out of Wiggins is the minimum you will see, and the ceiling, while isn’t Gates-like, would easily put him in the top of the ranks.
Tony Scheffler: Tony has quietly had one of the best camps among rookie TEs. He’s already beaten out all of the competition as the main guy for receiving as a TE. He also brings something to the table that Denver has missed since losing Sharpe long, long ago. While I rarely take notice of a rookie TE (they simply do not produce historically, fighting just to get average numbers among TEs, and 99.9% of the time coming up short), it definitely bares watching.
Kickers: (does anyone really care about these? Regardless, here you go)
Ryan Longwell: On a team that looks to be about as mundane as they come, this team is sure to stall in the red-zone a lot, relying most heavily on the defense. Longwell, an accomplished kicker for years until recently, has a great leg, and moves in doors. Should get plenty of attempts.
Jason Hanson: A long time fantasy top kicker, Jason finally has an offensive coordinator that may actually get him some attempts again. I don’t see this being “The Greatest Show on Turf 2”, but they should be more then improved enough to get close enough for Hanson.
Stephen Gostkowski (Gost): Gost gets an honorable mention here. While I have NEVER relied on a rookie kicker EVER, Gost is drawing some pretty big praise. Going 9/9 with a long of 54 in preseason, and playing on a team that relies pretty heavily on their kicker, and game winning field goals, he’s worth keeping an eye on. I’m not willing to drink the koolaid yet, as I’d like to see what he does in clutch situations, that define a kicker, as well as in the swirling winter winds of the East Coast, but I’ll be keeping an eye on him early and often.
Defenses: (again, pretty useless, but I suppose they are worth mentioning)
Minnesota: My sleeper defense of the year may not be on waivers, but they are definitely worth looking at. Minny, aside from a single meltdown game against Baltimore, was among the top defenses over the final 10 games in points allowed. They were also among the lead leaders in takeaways. An improved and healthy Dline should improve in the sack department, and they still will likely bring one of the better return units to the table. With a relatively weak schedule offensively, you could do much worse.
Philadelphia: For some reason, Philly aint getting much love this season, both on offense, and on defense. They have made vast improvements as well as gotten healthy at a plethora of weaknesses last year. Being only 2 years removed from a long string of NFC supremacy, I think many owners are making a mistake passing on them.
Well…that’s about it for now. Just a few nuggets to keep an eye on. There are plenty more, especially in the RB, WR, and QB department, but I have a life, and 3 at each is enough for now. If you want more…do your own damn research.
Have a good one,

1 comment:

Professor Ellis D Trails said...

eddi, nice work my friend, A lot of good insight and I feel the same way about Rivers and Jackson, I have Rivers in almost all of my leagus this year.

Two things - Who is David Campbell? (Jesse)
and Rocket Surgeon - Did you combine Rocket Scientist and Brain Surgeon into one extremely difficult occupation? LOL, just messing - good stuff