Each year there are guys who fall way short of expectations. Sometimes it’s because of age. Other times it may be a fluke factor. Last year I was decent prediction sleepers, but did quite well picking Trent Green, Tiki Barber, Santana Moss, and Jason Witten to not meet their expectations.

Some I’m hoping to do the same this year.

Quarterback
I’ll start at the Quarterback position. Obviously the biggest bust will be Michael Vick, who had excellent fantasty numbers last year.

My pick this year is Vince Young. Not just because of the Madden Curse. Yahoo has him ranked 7th among QBs. Sporting News is a little more conservative at 11th. CBS Sportsline has him 8th. I don’t question Young’s talent. I question the talent around him. The running game is a mess with a fat, lazy guy and a soft, oft-injured guy. Not to mention his stats last year just weren’t worthy of a Top 8 QB. He averaged 159 yards/start passing. He did make up for it with 40.6 yards rushing per game. His 12 passing TDs (less than one per game) were aided by 7 rushing TDS (over half a TD per game). He also threw 13 picks and lost 3 fumbles. Young is projected to throw for 2900 yards, rush for 840 yards, have 16 TD passes and run for 9 more. I just don’t see it.
Prediction: 2800 passing yards, 650 rushing yards, 16 TDs, 6 rushing TDs, 20 INTs

Running Back
I’m sticking in the AFC South for my RB Bust pick. I don’t see anyway Maurice Jones-Drew comes close to his rookie production. Yahoo has him projected to be the 15th best RB next year (ahead of Willis McGahee, Edge, Cedric Benson, and others). CBS Sportsline has him ranked 14th (ahead of Benson, Edge, and Ronnie Brown). Yahoo projects him to have 1264 yards and 12 TDs. I’m not buying that. He’ll be a decent RB again, but he still has to share with Fred Taylor. If you’re thinking MJD is going to be a solid as he was in the 2nd half of last year, you’re going to be disappointed.
Prediction: 1100 total yards, 8 rushing & receiving TDs

Wide Receiver
I’m going over to the NFC for this one. I’m talking Torry Holt. He’s 31, which isn’t terrible for WRs, but he’s not getting any younger. Throw in offseason knee surgery, and the questions start. Yahoo has him ranked 4th (ahead of Chad Johnson, Reggie Wayne, etc). CBS Sportsline has him 5th. Yahoo predicts 1200 yards and 9 TDs. Last year he had nearly 1200 yards and 10 TDs. However, 150 of those yards and 3 of those scores came in one game. He only had four 100 yard games last year, and even more importantly one 1 after Week 6. He also only had 3 TDs after Week 6. He averaged 66.1 yards and .3 TDs in the last ten weeks of 2006. That’s an average of 8.4 fantasy points per game. That would project to 1058 yards and 5 TD. It’s not bad, but it’s clearly not #1 WR status. I’d still take him as a #1 WR, but he’s not the same guy he used to be. I think he’ll still get good yardage, but the TDs may be less frequent. Adding Randy McMichael and Drew Bennett to the mix will almost guarantee that.
Prediction: 1100 yards, 7 TDs

Tight End
Torry Holt isn’t going to be the only Big Dog I predict will take a fall this year. I’m predicting Tony Gonzalez to take a step back as well. CBS Sportsline has him ranked 2nd. Yahoo has him ranked 3rd (Todd Heap jumped him). Gonzo had 900 yards and 5 TDs. The yardage total was quite good, but the TD dip has to be concerning. The 5 TDs came in 3 games, which is even worse. He only cracked 70 yards 5 times. 6 times he was held below 40 yards. He’s also 31 this year. The KC line took a blow when Will Shields retired. I just get the feeling he’s going to be asked to stay in on pass protection a little more. He’s still a weekly starter, but he’s not even close to Gates territory any more. He’s way back with the pack.
Prediction: 700 yards, 5 TDs

Previous Spotlights
D.J . Hackett
Chris Brown
J.P . Losman
Vincent Jackson
Jerious Norwood
Heath Miller
Alex Smith

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He’s a former #1 pick. He looked miserable as a rookie. He made some nice strides last year though. His completion percentage improved from 50.9% as a rookie to 58.1% as a soph. His passer rating improved from 40.8 to 74.8. Having Darrell Jackson, Ashley Lelie, and a healthy Vernon Davis at his disposal, he should be due for an ever greater season.He started off hot last year passing for 288, 233, and 293 yards in the first three weeks. He only cracked 200 yards two more times (214 in Week 6 and 201 in Week 14). However, three of his four games where he had a 100 rating or higher came in Week 5 or later.

Smith didn’t end his season on a high note. He had his lowest passer rating and completion percentage. He also had his worst TD:INT ratio. His 2890 yards and 16 TD/16 INT probably won’t get anybody excited.

What I like is the fact that’s he’s been through this for 25 games now. He should be more comfortable with what defenses will bring. He does have the problem of having another new Offensive Coordinator, but he’s a bright kid. He can learn quickly and adapt. I’m not expecting starter numbers out of him, but I am expecting backup numbers.

Prediction: 3000 yards, 20 TDs, 14 INTs

 

 

Previous Spotlights
D.J . Hackett
Chris Brown
J.P . Losman
Vincent Jackson
Jerious Norwood
Heath Miller

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Today we’re talking Tight Ends. No, not Jessica Alba. NFL Tight Ends. Please try and stay focused. If you can’t get your hands on Antonio Gates, to me the rest are about the same. I think Tony Gonzalez takes a step back this year. Todd Heap, Kellen Winslow, and Shockey are solid, but they are injury risks. Alge Crumpler has to deal with a new QB. One that’s named Joey Harrington. The breakout guy everyone is talking about is Vernon Davis. Everyone is talking about him though, so I figured I’d talk about someone that many have forgotten.

Heath Miller had an outstanding rookie season. We’re talking 39 catches for 459 yards and 6 TDs. Those are pretty solid numbers for a rookie WR, let alone a TE. He took a step back last year with 34 receptions for 393 yards and 5 TDs. He did, however, have a 87 yard TD though. Not to mention his QB Big Ben struggled mightily last year.

I can’t really judge from his numbers last year. He only broke 40 yards once. His rookie year he did it 6 times. He also had a 4 game stretch where he scored 5 TDs as a rookie. Last year he finished December with 2 TDs. I think he builds on that, and gets worked into the offense a little more.

Prediction: 600 yard, 8 TDs

Previous Spotlights
D.J. Hackett
Chris Brown
J.P . Losman
Vincent Jackson
Jerious Norwood

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Jerious Norwood has a couple of things going for him. Warrick Dunn is getting up there in age for a running back, and Michael “Ookie” Vick won’t be there to take away rushing yardage. With Joey Harrington at the helm, the Falcons will have to run a more traditional offense that will feature more rushing by the running backs. I think Norwood is going to be the guy that benefits the most.Last year Norwood rushed for 633 yards at a ridiculous 6.4 yards per carry. That’s a Tecmo Football yards per carry. He also had 102 yards receiving, which means he was good for 52.5 total yards per game last year. Unfortunately he only reached paydirt twice (on 78 & 69 yard runs).

Looking at his last month of work doesn’t really show he’s ready for a breakout season. He had a 107 yard game, a 32 yards game, he missed a game, had a 20 yard game, and a 63 yard game. To say he was inconsistent is an understatement. It’s going to take a leap of faith to carry Norwood as your 3rd or 4th receiver knowing that Warrick Dunn has ran for at least 1100 yards the past three years.

I think Norwood will be more involved in the passing game this year. With Harrington behind Center, they are going to need to dump some balls off. Plus, getting a burner like Norwood in space is just a good idea. I wouldn’t count on a lot of TDs from Norwood, but he should put up some good yardage numbers.

 

Prediction: 1200 total yards, 5 TDs

Previous Spotlights
D.J. Hackett
Chris Brown
J.P. Losman
Vincent Jackson

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On to fantasy football talk. First of all, I am so happy that Larry Johnson, my Numero Uno Keeper has reached a deal with the Chiefs. I, along with other LJ owners, can breath a collective sigh of relief. Alright, enough small talk. Let’s talk about Vincent Jackson.

Vincent Jackson is a big target. He’s listed at 6’5″ and 241 lbs. He’s entering his third year, which is a magical number for receivers. He caught 27 passes last year, which isn’t great, but he took 6 of them to the house. That’s should get you attention.What really should get your attention though is how he finished the season. In his last four games he caught 14 (52% of his total) passes for 286 yards (63%), and 3 TDs (50%). That’s a mighty fine way to finish the year.

If you extrapolate Jackson’s numbers from his last four games you get 56 catches for 1144 yards and 12 TDs. With all the attention LT and Gates get I think he’ll come pretty close to those numbers.

 

Prediction: 64 receptions, 1100 yards, 9 TDs

Not that it means much, but he scored a TD in San Diego’s second preseason game.

Previous Spotlights
D.J. Hackett
Chris Brown
J.P. Losman

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When you think J.P. Losman, admit it…you think Lossman or Loserman. He’s been the butt of jokes the last couple of years. I wouldn’t dream of picking Losman as the starting QB of my fantasy team, but believe it or not, he made great strides in his second year as starting QB. His first year as a starter he completed 49.6% of his passes. That is dreadful. Last year he completed 62.5%. He passed for 1340 yards in 9 games (8 starts – 167.5 per start) in 2005. He improved to 3051 (190.69 per start) in 2006. His TD-INT ratio improved from 8-8 to 19-4. His passer rating improved 20 points.

I believe he’s going to be called on even more in 2007 as they will be using a rookie running back. As I’ve mentioned before, I like to look at how a guy ended the year to predict how he’ll do. He had almost as many TDs in December (9) as he had the other months (10). He averaged 208.8 yards/month. The other months he averaged 182.45 yards/month. If you extrapolate his December numbers you get 3341 yards, 29 TDs and 19 INTs. I don’t think he’ll get quite that many TDs or INTs, however I do think he’ll be an adequate backup in most leagues.

Prediction: 3400 yards, 24 TDs, 16 INTs

Previous Spotlights
D.J. Hackett
Chris Brown

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Travis Henry has moved on to Denver’s greener pastures. LenDale White is a fat sweat who isn’t motivated. Chris Henry will get a chance to show something in the preseason. Rookies RBs typically struggle picking up blitzes. Although he was limited to 41 carries last year, I feel Chris Brown will lead the Titans in rushing this year.

I don’t suggest taking him early at all. In fact, I think he should be your 5th RB. If you are in smaller leagues, maybe you just want to keep an eye on him on the the waiver wire. He has produced in the past (1214 total yards, 6 TDs in 11 games in ’04 & 1178 total yards & 7 TDs in 15 games in ’05), and given the opportunity, he’ll do so again.

You can’t really guestimate numbers based on last year, but he should come close to repeating his 2005 stats. He’ll have to have big plays to score TDs though because Henry and White will likely work the red zone.

Warning: The bust factor is high on this pick.

Prediction: 1000 total yards, 5 TDs

Previous Spotlights
D.J. Hackett

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Last year I predicted and tracked players that I thought would be surprises or disappointments. I was moderately succesful. I did well with Reggie Brown, Philip Rivers, Mark Clayton, and Chester Taylor in the surprise department. In the disappointment compartment is where I really made my reputation. I successfully predicted a disappointing year for Trent Green, Tiki Barber, Santana Moss, Sinsinnati’s Defense, and to some extent Jason Witten.

First up is D.J. Hackett. It is his fourth year in the league and his 3rd year he’ll get playing time. He played in 13 games in 2005 catching 28 passes for 400 yards and 2 touchdowns. Last year he played in 15 games and catch 45 passes for 610 yards and 4 TDs. Darrell Jackson is taking his drops down the Pacific Coast to San Francisco meaning D.J. is likely going to be a starter.

One of the ways I like to judge players is how they finished. Let’s take a look at his December numbers. D.J. caught 20 passes (44% of his receptions) in December for 304 yards (50%) and 2 TDs (50%). in five games. That’s an average of 4 passes for 61 yards and 0.4 TDs. If you project that out to 16 games you get 64 passes, 976 yards, and 6 TDs. Obviously those numbers aren’t worthy of a #2 WR on a fantasy team, but they wouldn’t be too bad for a 4th WR (possibly 3rd in deep leagues). I think D.J. does a little better than my extrapolation though.

Plus, on MNF he was the best at catching fish at the fish market in Seattle.

Prediction: 80 receptions, 1100 yards, 8 TDs

Agree? Disagree? Let me know your thoughts. Thanks for reading.

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