Mancuso’s All-Rookie Preseason Team
By Marc Mancuso
These are the guys who will be fantasy relevant in 2009. They are must drafts for keeper leagues. Opportunity is the key to rookie value and all of these players will see significant PT this year.
QB Mark Sanchez, NYJ — All indications are that Sanchez will start for the Jets. He will definitely face ups and downs in his first season, but if the Jets can establish a strong running game, and he gets help from his talented WR’s and emerging star TE Dustin Keller, Sanchez may begin to pay dividends for Rex Ryan in Year 1.
RB: Knowshown Moreno – The RB situation is getting clearer in Denver, with the release of JJ Arrington and Ryan Torain. With Correll Buckhalter expected to play the Kevin Faulk role, and LaMont Jordan looking more like a situational back, Knowshown will emerge despite his holdout.
RB: James Davis, CLE – Opportunity is everything in fantasy football. Considering Jamal Lewis’ health, an uncertain QB situation, an O Line which is vastly improved, and a conservative coach in Eric Mangini, James Davis has opportunity. Davis is a talented back with running an receiving skills who stayed in school and subsequently saw his draft status drop before the NFL draft, and backs up an aging vet with some injury concerns–this sounds a lot like Steve Slaton in 2008.
WR: Hakeem Nicks, NYG – Eli Manning needs a big receiver in the Plaxico mold and Nicks fits perfectly. While his route running is still developing, as the “X” it relies less on precision patterns, and more on athleticism to get Eli’s jump balls. Nicks has little competition and should contribute right away.
WR: Jeremy Maclin, PHI – Maclin missed 15 days of camp, but he is already making an impact on the coaching staff. It will take time for Maclin to adjust to the West Coast offense coming from a spread he had at Missouri, but DeSean Jackson will be getting a lot of double teams, meaning Maclin will get his share of looks. Don’t expect a lot in the first part of the season, but as he gets familiar, Marty Mornhinweg will find ways to get him involved. It’s a make or break year for Philadelphia, so expect to see Reid open up the playbook this season.
WR: Percy Harvin, MIN — Brad Childress needs to keep teams from stacking up against Adrian Peterson, and a guy like Harvin will help him spread the field and open the playbook as a receiving and running threat.
TE: Jared Cook, TEN — Cook is getting rave reviews with the aging Alge Crumpler and Bo Scaife as his only competition. Fisher still plays a very conservative brand of offense, so expect lots of running, and dink and dunk.
Notes: You were probably expecting to see Beanie Wells on this list. Two of the most underappreciated pieces of success in fantasy are durability and opportunity. Beanie has already gotten nicked this preseason and I’m concerned about his ability to stay healthy, which he could never do at Ohio State. Tim Hightower may not be the answer, but Arizona is a pass first team, and I don’t see them becoming a smash mouth team. Reports from camp indicate Wells has fallen short of expectations thus far.