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Article 10

by Steve Stegeman (October 30, 2000)



     In May, the article, "NFL's 4th Pick, Warrick, Still Fantasy Football's #1", which ranked this year's class of rookies for fantasy football purposes, was done here at Football Insider.  Now here we are at the mid-season point between Weeks 8 and 9 in the NFL, and it is due time we take a look back and see how we are fairing thus far.  One blanket point made back in May which we nailed right on the head is that even the suggested top picks, WR Peter Warrick and RB Ron Dayne, should not be considered Top-50 draft picks for fantasy football.  This fact has held true.  Without further ado, let's take a look at our Top 10 from May and some other notables...

Bengals WR Peter Warrick was the #1-ranked player.  When you combine his receiving and rushing stats, this ranking is fairly accurate.  He has 24 receptions for 280 yards and a touchdown and eight rushes for 150 yards and a TD.  In the future, he may even become more of a factor as a punt returner, which is another potential upswing if your league counts return production.  The lowdown on Warrick is that the more your league emphasizes his production as a receiver only, the more he drops down the list, but not all too far, a fact traceable more so to the numbers of those originally ranked below him.  Bottom line this year - for fantasy football, his stats have been acceptable/usable in five games.

The #2-ranked player was the top running back available in the 2000 draft according to the list, Giants RB Ron Dayne, and since, like the real game, many fantasy leagues are won by having a strong running game, or at least cannot be won without a good rushing attack, it would not have been unreasonable to select Dayne over Warrick depending on one's team's needs and their league's rules.  Many other sources had Ravens rookie RB Jamal Lewis and/or Cardinals RB rookie Thomas Jones ahead of him, but Dayne has lived up to the billing of his Heisman Trophy and has been the best rookie back this season rushing for 451 yards and four TD's on 129 carries.  At this point in time, I would probably flip-flop Warrick and Dayne in a mid-season rookie ranking, at least for the remainder of this season.  Dayne, though, is not a guy who will diversify your attack as he is not much of a receiver.  Bottom line this year - he has produced acceptable to solid stats in six games.

#3 on the list was Patriots RB J.R. Redmond, who, after sustaining a preseason injury, has been coming around the past two weeks as he is beginning to cut more and more into Kevin Faulk's playing time.  Though Faulk was holding his own in his stint as the team's #1 running back, it is apparent that the Patriots want to use him strictly as a third-down back and eventually turn the reigns over to Redmond, who has 48 rushes for 161 yards and eight catches for 72 yards and two TD's.  He probably should be downgraded to 4 on this list.  Bottom line this year - for fantasy football he has been okay enough in, maybe, three games, but he is coming on.  In this past Sunday's game, he had 27 touches for 132 yards and a TD.

Speaking of #4, in May that was Cardinals RB Thomas Jones.  Jones was supposed to be the team's #1 running back in 2000 coming into the season.  He had flashes of greatness early on but has subsequently been relieved by Michael Pittman, a player who we knew was not going to give up (his starting job) without a fight, which is the reason he was ranked behind Dayne and Redmond.  He has 81 rushes for 266 yards and 2 TD's and 18 receptions for 103 yards on the season and should probably be bumped down on the list but remain in the Top 7 or so, in keeper leagues at least.  Bottom line this year - his numbers were passable in three or four games this year depending on the structure of your league, but have tailed off ever since Pittman moved ahead of him and will continue to do so for the rest of this season, probably.

Halfway to 10, there was Steelers WR Plaxico Burress at #5.  He was considered by many the best receiver in the draft.  His rookie season has been up and down catching 20 balls for 244 yards.  He has not seen the endzone yet.  Even though the Steelers' offense has been clicking as of late, relatively speaking of course, Burress continues to be overshadowed by the likes of Hines Ward and Bobby Shaw.  Bottom line this year - he has produced a fantasy-worthy game only one time this season, and he is apparently tailing off as many players do their rookie season.  He has not been and continues to not be able to be used on a regular basis this year.

Rated right behind Buress at #6 was Ravens WR Travis Taylor.  These guys have actually had similar seasons but should probably be pushed down the list a little and flip-flopped as Taylor has had a couple of good fantasy-worthy games as opposed to Burress, who has just kind of plodded along at an okay rate.  Taylor has caught for 276 yards on 27 catches including three TD's.  However, both of them play in pathetic offenses and will likely not amount to much this year.  They are much more valuable in keeper or dynasty leagues, the former of which you can read about in the article "Keeper Leagues - the More, the Merrier".  Bottom line this year - he has been good enough to use for fantasy football four times, but he was also starting to slump with late-season "rookieidus", and now that he has sustained an injury that could likely end his (regular) season, he becomes a non-issue for the rest of this season, i.e. in re-draft leagues.

At #7 was Ravens RB Jamal Lewis, who has really been showing his brass since returning and, admittedly, was undervalued at the time of this ranking.  He has been hindered somewhat by a couple things, one, Priest Holmes's not going away, by the way, one of the reasons he was underrated to begin with, and two, the atrocious Ravens offense who have not scored a touchdown since the drop-kick went the way of the wooly mammoth.  His numbers on the year are:  530 yards and a TD on 126 carries and 147 yards on 13 receptions.  Consequently, he is useless in touchdown leagues, but, then again, most of these guys are.  As long as he stays healthy, the other reason he was undervalued, he is still one to hold on to for the future and should probably be bumped up to #3 or #4.  Bottom line this year - he has been good enough to use six times.

"The" gutsiest, most intriguing, most curious and probably most right-on listing of the them all is #8, Jets WR Laveraneus Coles.  Coles, who has 291 yards and a TD on 18 catches this year, is starting to emerge as an impact receiver for the Jets and even for fantasy purposes, punching in the clock and putting in three workmanlike efforts over the last three Sundays in which he caught 15 balls for 239 yards and a TD.  #8 is probably the right ranking now, but my heart says this guy belongs in the Top 5.  Bottom line this year - he has been usable three times the Jets last three games.  He is coming on big time.

#9 was a flop, 49ers QB Giovanni Carmazzi, who is apparently less liked than 49ers rookie Tim Rattay, and it does not appear that he is going to be seeing any P.T. any time too soon with the emergence of Jeff Garcia.  He is behind the late, great Rick Mirer too.  Carmazzi has the tools, though, and do not be surprised if he is a name you hear about this offseason in NFL-Europe and, in the future, in the NFL-bigs.  For now, though, he can be taken off the list.  There is no "Bottom Line" (this year) here.  He is admittedly a long shot to show at this point.

Finally, #10, Browns RB Travis Prentice, who is showing he has what it takes to be a starting running back in the NFL.  He has 275 yards and four TD's on 86 carries and 112 yards on 21 receptions and a TD on the season, and over the last two weeks has had to perform without Tim Couch at the helm quarterbacking the team.  Teams will continue to key on him for the rest of the season, so do not expect numbers too big here on out.  Nevertheless, he is one to keep (in mind at least) for next year and should be bumped up to #6 or #7.  Bottom line this year - he has put up good enough stats for fantasy purposes four times this year.  With the loss of Rhett, he is "the man" in the Browns' backfield.  However, with the loss of Couch, his numbers will be unpredictable, to say the least, from here on out.  He has actually been up and down all year with his best two games coming in Week 1 and then in Week 5.

Other notables:

#13 Ravens QB Chris Redman, the #2-rated quarterback on the list from May.  Tony Banks, Trent Dilfer, come on!  Redman, who should be the man in Baltimore come next season, may be leading the Ravens before the end of this season.  He has got the tools.  Don't really know where he should be ranked.  #10, #11 sounds about right.  Bottom line - Banks and Dilfer stink.  Redman has got some upside later this year and definitely next year.

#15 Seahawks RB Shaun Alexander, another gutsy move, ranking him 7th among running backs of the 2000 class, which has pretty much held true.  He has 237 yards and a TD on 43 carries and 41 yards on five receptions on the season, but on talent alone he should be moved up to the Top 10.  However, he remains stuck behind Ricky Watters this season, which is what was predicted in the May article.  On the other hand, he is an injury away from being in the Top 3 or, perhaps, even #1.  Bottom line this year - He was usable two times.

#17 Bears WR Dez White, who has not done much yet in the Bears feeble offense, but has had a couple shining moments in the absence of Marcus Robinson.  For the year he has just 4 catches, 49 yards and one TD.  He is not really rankable, maybe Top 15ish, as he is probably on the usual three-year breakout receiver plan, but it does not hurt to be ahead of the game.  Bottom line this year - the week he scored the TD is the only week he was usable for fantasy purposes.  He is a non-issue for this season, really.

#19 Chiefs WR Sylvester Morris, who, thank goodness he was in the Top 20, but should have been (and should be) put in the Top 10 or higher.  Morris is the perfect complement to Derrick Alexander, the Chiefs' deep threat, and their tight end Tony Gonzalez.  He will only get better as he beefs up his 6'3" frame.  He is the leader among rookie receivers.  This year he has accumulated 395 yards and three TD's on 26 catches, but remember all three TD's came in one game.  Bottom line this year - he has been good enough to use six times.

#21 Jaguars WR R. Jay Soward, who, has shown some real flashes, but, unfortunately, has also shown a propensity to drop passes.  In leagues where return yards are counted, his value will increase in the future.  He has only 88 yards on 11 catches and a TD and three rushes for 28 yards, but his stats could have been even better if he had not fumbled and bumbled opportunities away.  Nevertheless, he should be considered Top -15ish among rookies.  Bottom line this year  - he was only usable one time.  If Smith's injuries were to linger and he has to sit out, Soward could still make an impact this season if he learns some discipline.

#22 Buccaneers QB Joe Hamilton, who, as was labeled in the original article, may be a better version of Shaun King than King himself.  Although King picked apart the Vikings defense this past Sunday, do not be fooled.  Though he may remain the starter the remainder of this season, King is not going to lead this team to the promised land.  His arm is just too weak.  Eric Zeier, perhaps, could, but Hamilton is the X-factor of the future down in Tampa.  It is not really possible to rank Joey right now.  Just keep your eye on him down the line.  What the heck, right?  Bottom line - He has got the tools and the intangibles a quarterback needs but is not going to be an issue unless the Bucs' other QB's suffer serious injuries.  The more likely scenario is that he will have to toil in NFL-Europe, the CFL or, oh gasp, the Arena League before he gets a chance.

#23 Bengals WR Ron Dugans, who was forgotten on most offseason/preseason lists.  He started the year as a starter.  He has recently been benched in favor of a veteran receiver to work opposite Peter Warrick.  His numbers on the year are 11 catches for 101 yards and one TD.  Right now, a ranking of about 20 would be fair enough, but that's just a rough guesstimate.  Basically, he is a guy to watch out for in the future, that three-year breakout thingamajig.  Bottom line this year - he has been usable one time this season.  He probably will not be usable again this year as he is a #3 receiver in a terrible passing offense.

A few other offensive rookies to watch out for now and in the future:  Browns WR's Dennis Northcutt and JaJuan Dawson, Browns QB Spergon Wynn, Raiders WR Jerry Porter, Seahawks WR Darrell Jackson and Packers TE Bubba Franks.




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Revised: 08 Oct 2014 11:56:20 -0700