Examining Potential 2010 Rookie Targets

Sometimes its tough to pick a target for the year, especially when your team doesn’t have a discernable rookie that will be a huge factor during the season. Last year, I was lucky to be able to chase Percy Harvin on his way to eventually being named rookie of the year, but this year it isnt so cut an dry without a Vikings first round pick. I know that most of you out there are starting to begin your chase for cards, so here is who I would chase and who I would stay away from.

The Top Offensive Picks

Sam Bradford – I wouldn’t touch Sam Bradford right now, as he is not worth the money that some people are paying. He may eventually be a great QB, but the Rams are so terrible, he should end up very much like Stafford. That is, he should end up like Stafford if he gets signed in time. Because he may not start from day one, and because he will most like have a myriad of problems without a good receiving corps, he is a no go.

Tim Tebow – If you buy Tim Tebow right now, you must have a few screws loose. His value is so ridiculous based on his college career, that I don’t even think I would spend someone else’s money on him. In fact, if I go to the rookie premiere events this week, I wont even bother looking for him because there are much better uses for my time. Per early reports he is number 4 on the depth chart, and though Denver wont be able to keep him there for long, he isnt going to play for a long time. If he does end up on the field in the distant future, I am almost positive he will not be effective.

CJ Spiller – Spiller has the biggest opportunity of anyone at the top of the draft, mainly because of how much he will play. The problem is that Buffalo’s offensive line has the effectiveness equal to Marshawn Lynch’s english speaking skills. This will hinder Spiller tremendously, and he will most likely end up more like Laurence Maroney than Maurice Jones-Drew when all is said and done. Watch out.

Dez Bryant – Its tough to deny that Bryant has the skills to be a great receiver, and playing in Dallas sure helps that cause. His prices are astronomical right now, and he easily could live up to them after being surrounded by Romo, Austin, and Williams. I would give him a good shot at the ROY if he can keep his head on straight, but then again, who wants a WR that isnt all about themselves? Their job is to be a ball hawk, so a me-first attitude can help in a lot of situations.

Demaryous Thomas – I have this gut feeling that he will turn out to be this year’s Hey-Bey. He was a big reach over both Benn and Bryant, so Im not sure if I would even waste any time on him. Orton really has a lot of expectations to fufill, which could work in his favor without a true number one in Denver anymore. However, with the additions of him and Eric Decker, they may end up battling for reps if production falters for either one.

Ryan Mathews – This is a guy I would chase, he looks like he is going to have a great situation in San Diego when he gets there. A good QB, a good offensive line, and Darren Sproles. If you are a charger fan, you are happy they picked him, though you are sad that his prices are inflated due to the Peterson effect. Ryan Mathews is a sleeper for ROY, and as time moves on, he should end up being the best RB in the class. That’s my prediction.

Jahvid Best – See CJ Spiller’s predicament, because Best is going to have a similar challenge. The Lions are just a terrible team and their offensive line is not where it needs to be. However, he will have more reps due to Kevin Smith’s injury, but im not sure if it will matter all that much. Its tough to be a good running back when your team has more three and outs than anyone else in the league.

Jimmy Clausen – I like Clausen a lot, and I was pissed when the Vikings passed on him TWICE. He was projected as a top 5 pick, but teams didn’t think it was worth passing on a lot of the amazing defensive talents in the draft. I think Clausen will have the biggest impact of any of the rookie QBs in the first few years, only because Carolina is the best team with a new QB. The Panthers tore it up the last few weeks of the season and I think they will have a better year this year despite losing Julius Peppers. They play in a weaker division than I would expect, and Matt Moore doesn’t look like he is primed for a long run as their QB. Clausen could get on the field this year, and I have a feeling he will be effective as soon as he is handed the reigns.

Colt McCoy – McCoy is more NFL ready than Tebow in my opinion, but like St Louis, the Browns are horrid. He has nobody to throw to even if they let him play, and I wouldn’t be surprised if the Browns pick number 1 next year and take a QB again. Stay away from McCoy for that reason.

Sleeper Offensive Players to Watch

Toby Gerhart – As a Vikings player, he will have a huge following. As a Vikings player he will also be limited in his carries and role in the offense. He was selected to replace Chester Taylor, but I think a combination of Percy Harvin and Peterson will fill the role initially. He will get touches, but not a major amount until next year. Gerhart was a beast in college, but lost stock because of a less than stellar 40 time and because he didn’t have a big program on jersey. He may have been second in the Heisman voting, but im not sure what kind of success he will have, especially if Favre retires.

Jonathan Dwyer – Same situation, but in Pittsburgh. Dwyer has Rashard Mendenhall to compete with, and as a later round pick, they don’t have much invested in him. Yet, with all Steelers guys, they always find a way to be good, so don’t count him out. His stuff will probably be cheap, so its not going to be a big investment to buy in.

Eric Decker - I like Decker a lot, and think he can be a good number 2 receiver in the pros. I definitely think he could end up being better than Thomas, but it will all depend on who plays QB. Decker’s stuff wont go for shit, so again, it may be worth it to buy a few cards just because.

Ben Tate – Slaton has fumblitis, and was hurt last year, which means that Tate will get some reps. I mean, look at who they ran with last year. Brown? Cmon. Tate has a lot of upside, but his stuff is high because of where he played in college. I think if he shows initial promise, it’s a good idea to buy in. He plays for a good team with a good line, so he may be this year’s LeSean McCoy.

Golden Tate – WRs always have a shot, but they are never worth very much unless they are named Jerry Rice. Tate will have a great shot in Seattle, mainly because of lack of options not named Houshmanzadeh. Tate showed flashes of brilliance in College and was a projected first rounder. I wouldn’t be surprised if he ends up being Carroll’s number 2.

Ill be doing the normal Rookie Battle Royales again this year with focus on these guys, so check in as we get closer to the season for more updates.

Divisional Round Royal Rumble: Favre’s Purple Reign

What a weekend it was for me, as I got to see one of the best played Vikings games in the last ten years. Its been a long time since 2000’s 41-0 loss to the Giants, and even longer since the 1998 biggest disappointment of my young sports fandom. Here are some thoughts.

Vikings/Cowboys
Look out New Orleans, the Vikings are looking like they did in the middle of the season, especially through the air and on the defensive line. After the defense throttled Romo a team record six times, there was little he was going to be able to do to get things to a manageable point. I never would have guessed that he wouldnt have been able to put up a TD, but its exciting to think that a team like the Vikings could stop him. Minnesota has struggled on defense in the latter part of the season, and to think that they stopped the hottest team in the league is amazing. Not only that, but Sidney Rice is quickly cementing himself as one of the best receivers in the game, evidenced by the crazy catches made yesterday for over 140 yards and 3 TDs.
Chargers/Jets
I cant believe this was the closest game of the weekend, and I am even more shocked that the Jets came out on top. Shonn Greene looks like a stud to say the least, and the Jets’ defense looks menacing. The Chargers didnt lose on those two elements though, as Nate Kaeding cost them the tie and the win in his first game with three missed kicks ever. I still think the Jets are going to get their asses kicked next week, but who didnt say that this week. I think its also worth mentioning that Shonn Greene’s last two games have been unbelievable, and it may have been in the best interest of the Jets to have played him a little more behind Jones and Washington. I dont think that will be an issue next year.
Saints/Cardinals
Drew Brees is like the LeBron James of the NFL, he is amazingly good and makes everyone around him that much better. Hell, even Reggie Bush got into the action too, and that doesnt happen very often. Also, without Boldin to draw coverage away from Fitz and Breaston, the Cards looked flat, especially when Rev Warner didnt look like he had prayed hard enough that night before. In all intensive purposes, the Saints looked poised to be the Champs this year, and if they continue to play the way they did on Saturday, it will be very tough to beat them.
Colts/Ravens
I thought this was going to be the closest game of the weekend, but instead it looked very much like a Colts game usually does. Manning takes control, and the Defense mops up any spills. To hold Flacco, Rice and Mason to under 7 points is a feat in itself, and if we end up with a Colts/Saints Super Bowl, things could get pretty ugly. I do think that Reggie Wayne will need to play like he did at the beginning to have a chance at a championship, because on Saturday, he didnt look like the Reggie Wayne we know and love.
PREVIEWS FOR NEXT WEEK
Vikings/Saints
Oh how I loathe these games. Tons of build up for the Vikings team and they always screw the pooch. I do think they have the best shot of any team in the NFC to beat the Saints, especially after the Cowboy massacre. Remember, the Cowboys beat the Saints at home during the season, and the Saints just beat the Cardinals who killed the Vikings on the road. Luckily for Minnesota, they are on turf again, indoors, where the Purple has cleaned up all year. We will see what Brees can do, as the Vikings defense will leave it up to him. I still say the Vikes come out on top, but its going to be a slug it out win.
Colts/Jets
Even though Revis may be one of the best cover corners in the league, the Colts should make due with the rest of the Jets’ defense. That, and I have a feeling that Indy’s D will make Sanchez their bitch. Its rare that you see a rookie QB do well in these games, especially against a team as good as the Colts. Should be a pretty big win for Manning, and Dallas Clark is going to go nuts. Just watch.
I sincerely hope I can have another good weekend next week, as so far, I have yet to see the Vikings in a super bowl. Either way, the games should be great, and we should get to see a great super bowl no matter who is in it. How amazing would it be to see a Favre/Manning showdown? That would be epic.

Rookie Battle Royale: Week 17 – Rumble for the Belt

Well, the NFL season is officially over, and the rookie campaigns are finished for many of the top rookies this year. There hasn’t been as many surprises as there were last year with two rookie QBs in the playoffs among others, but many of the years top rookies played far beyond expectations. This was really the year of the later round picks taking the spotlight, and hopefully next year will have just as many stars.

Percy Harvin

Harvin had a pretty good game against the Giants, even though he didn’t score. Hell, the entire team did well. He did have a long TD that was called back due to some unseen interference, but at that point the game was already over. Harvin should be the ROY when the results are released, though it is much closer now. Harvin has had a great year for a wide receiver and I can see that he will continue to do well into the playoffs. Since the voters value playoffs as well as performance, and he definitely gets that edge over Moreno and others, whose teams have stumbled and fell as the season closed.

Knowshon Moreno

Two TDs and almost 100 total yards didn’t help much against Kansas City, and I am thouroughly shocked that Denver did not make the playoffs after that start. Moreno hasn’t really been the reason they are playing golf next weekend, but that wont matter much in the end. He will have a great career in Denver, even if the Broncos keep playing the way they did after week 7, but I am not sure he will have the juice to end up with the hardware this year.

Beanie Wells

Wells did nothing on six carries, but the team wasn’t really playing either. When it comes to second halves, Beanie blew up and was probably at the top for all rookies in terms of production. The Cardinals will need him to do well if they hope to beat a streaking Packers team, and now that their defense is banged up, it may be too much for him to carry. He has been great this year, and will no doubt be the top guy for Arizona next year.

Mark Sanchez

Sanchez had a horrible year, but his start combined with a playoff berth is going to get him considerable consideration for some reason. The Jets will go out next week, but it’s the win yesterday that counts. I expect him to bone up and be much better as he learns how to play in the NFL, however this season is one to take an eraser to. He had only 69 yards passing and a TD in the big win, which was a result of the Jets only throwing 16 times.

Mike Wallace

Its odd that the Steelers are only using him for deep routes, but a blown coverage netted him a long TD in a squeaked out win. He only caught one other pass, but the overall numbers will get him consideration, behind the others at the top. He has had a season way above expectations, but I am not too convinced that he has what it takes to get it done as a top guy week after week.

Austin Collie

Collie did nothing this week, but had a ridiculous season for a player I hadnt heard of coming out of college. The Colts are playoff bound as a number one seed, and Im guessing that his role will be very reduced in the playoffs. Not because of lack of talent, but because teams tend to use the parts of the offense they trust much more than the newer parts. With Wayne, Addai, and company paving the way, it will take a lot for Collie to go off.

Arian Foster

What a job by this nobody, 119 yards and two TDs at least gave the Texans a shot at the post season. Another guy I had never heard of that just exploded, even though the Patriots should have rested their guys. Add him to the list of late rounders with great weeks, something that I missed most of last year. Great to see everyone getting in on the action.

Final NFL Offensive Rookie Of The Year Rankings

1. Percy Harvin (LW #1)
2. Knowshon Moreno (LW #2)
3. Beanie Wells (LW #2)
4. Mark Sanchez (LW NR)
5. Mike Wallace (LW #5)
5. Austin Collie (LW #5)

Rookie Battle Royale: Week 16

We are one week away from the end of the season and the AFC playoff picture is starting to look like a new york city street during rush hour. There werent many stories worth talking about from the rookies this week, but there sure were a bunch of really good games. Next week is going to mean a lot for more than a fair share of the ROY candidates’ teams, and you can bet that it is going to be a bloodbath.

Percy Harvin

Harvin plays tonight against the Bears in THE most important game of the season. The Vikings need to get the number 2 seed or higher, or I am going to say that they may be out in the first round of the playoffs after a very good season. Harvin needs to step up his game after last week’s disaster, and im not sure how he will do in the freezing cold weather of soldier field. I don’t think he played many games like this in college, and even though Favre has LOTS of experience, Harvin may fall flat on his face.

Knowshon Moreno

Moreno had a key touchdown against the Eagles, but they still lost. After starting 6-0 the Broncos do not control their own destiny anymore, and they may be on the outside looking in if the Jets and Ravens both win next week. Moreno did not have a good enough game to have the TD offset, but thanks to the TD they actually had a chance to win. He was really outshined by Jeremy Maclin and his late game heroics, but I will say that Maclin still has little chance of overcoming what Moreno has done this season.

Beanie Wells

Another game, another TD for Beanie and I think he may be in a virtual tie with Moreno for second place on the ROY ballot. I would say that tie goes to the team who makes the playoffs, so this is going to be Beanie’s slot. He has had a wonderful second half of the year, averaging over four yards per carry and almost one TD per game. For a rookie, that is pretty impressive. He has 7 TDs, but did not have a good enough start to the season to overcome Harvin at this point. We will see after tonight if Harvin drops past his current slot.

Austin Collie

Collie had 94 yards in the loss to the Jets, and most of it came before they pulled the starters. Collie has truly put up one of the most surprising seasons of any rookie, but when you have Peyton Manning throwing the ball 40-50 times a game, he will get some looks as Wayne and Garcon draw the coverage away. Either way, Collie deserves some attention and he really has gotten nothing.

Hakeem Nicks

Nicks had the same kind of game as the Giants offense did, only putting up nine points on a suddenly stingy Carolina defense. Nicks is still in the hunt, but the Giants are not, so he will need a record game to have any consideration.

Mike Wallace

He had a good game in a slug it out win over the Ravens, with over 80 yards, but he didn’t really give any additional reasons why he should be considered over the people at the top of the list.

Josh Freeman

Freeman has no chance of winning rookie of the year, but holy shit, I cannot believe the Bucs beat the Saints. A team with 12 losses hasn’t beat a team with 13 wins in a long, long time, and Freeman has Cadillac Williams to thank for his second improbable victory this year. In their three wins, the Bucs have beat both the Packers and the Saints, two playoff teams. I guess this goes to show that any given Sunday truly is any given Sunday.

Offensive Rookie of the Year Rankings

1. Percy Harvin – Needs a good game not just for this award but for his slumping team (LW – 1)
2. Knowshon Moreno – Had a mediocre game in a loss with major playoff implications (LW – 2)
2. Beanie Wells – Another game with a TD makes four in a row (LW – 3)
4. Austin Collie – Had a good game though the Colts threw in the towel (LW – 4)
5. Hakeem Nicks – Crappy game for the Giants, but deserves consideration (LW – 5)
5. Mike Wallace – Good game in a win (LW – 5)

Rookie Battle Royale: Week 15

Well, its been a long week for me, especially with the Vikings losing in epic fashion and both of my fantasy teams losing. I put up 134 points in one league and still lost, so you know the gods are not smiling upon you when that happens. Rather than going through and focusing on every rookie that plays, Im going to address the ROY candidates and some key others in the interest of time.

Percy Harvin

The whole Vikings offense struggled last night, and even though they secured a division title, they showed that they are also able to fall flat on their face. That is two Sunday night games with two losses, and after that horrid performance by the offensive line against Peppers, nothing is guaranteed anymore. Hell, there is still a chance they may not even win the number 2 seed. Harvin only caught 1 pass after missing the whole weeks worth of practice, so there was nothing of a surprise there. Hopefully the migranes are put away for now, and he wont have to miss any more time.

Knowshon Moreno

Like the Vikings, the Broncos put up a stinky loss to the Raiders, even losing to Jamarcus Russell in the final seconds. Moreno had 81 total yards, but didn’t really do anything spectacular. His team really didn’t do anything spectacular either, and therefore the ROY rankings really didn’t move all that much.

Beanie Wells

Wells had his best game of the year against the Lions, but I guess that should be expected. He ran for 110 yards, and a score, and did a pretty good job of setting up a win with a late 30 yard scamper. Wells has moved himself into to the ROY mix with his past two games, it will be interesting to see what will come of the rest of his season.

Austin Collie

Another TD for this success story puts his total at 7 for the year. That puts him ahead of Harvin and Nicks for top receiving TD total even though Harvin still has the lead with 8 total TDs. I think he has had a ridiculous year based on expectations, though it doesn’t hurt to have the best in the game throwing you the ball.

Mike Wallace

With pretty much everyone on the list laying an egg, Wallace ended up with a great game. He caught two TDs on two passes, including the game winner against Green Bay in the closing seconds. Although he only caught two passes, he came away with 79 yards, and catapulted himself ahead of the two QBs who had shitty days.

Matt Stafford

Did not play – he has pretty much removed himself from the discussion.

Mark Sanchez

Another bad game, another hard loss when the Jets should have won. Sanchez had 226 yards, a TD and 3 picks again, all of which add to his epic total of 20. Sanchez is playing like a rookie QB usually plays, so I guess I shouldn’t be too surprised, but either way, that strong start was just that, a strong start. He is pretty much done with ROY talk as well.

Josh Freeman

Again freeman impresses by leading the 2-12 Bucs to win number 2 against the Seahawks. His two TDs were screen passes, but they still count regardless, so he deserves mention this week. He has surprisingly made the most of his games he has played, beating two teams that have much better records than Tampa Bay.

Rookie of the Year Rankings

1. Percy Harvin – a bad game, but body of work is still best. (LW – 1)
2. Knowshon Moreno – a mediocre game, but should rebound next week. (LW – 2)
3. Beanie Wells – great game, sets up a possible sprint to the finish with top three (LW – NR)
4. Austin Collie – had another TD, leads rookies with 7 receiving TDs. (LW – NR)
5. Hakeem Nicks – if he plays well tonight, could be higher come next week. (LW – 5)
5. Mike Wallace – a game winner gets you on this list (LW – NR)