Thursday, July 29, 2010

Fantasy Football: Top 10 Keepers For 2010

With August just around the corner, it's time to start preparing your keeper league football team for the season. Picking the right keepers is key to starting your season off right.

Here is a look at the 10 best players to hold on to for this year.

Honorable Mentions

Ray Rice, RB

A revamped Ravens offense will limit Rice's production, meaning he may not get quite as many balls thrown to him, but he will still be the primary back in the team's rushing attack.

DeAngelo Williams and Jonathan Stewart, RBs

Williams and Stewart are by far the best running back duo in the game today and possibly in the top 10 or 15 of all time. Both backs could easily break 1,000 yards, plus maybe we'll see double digit TD totals from the two considering they will have an inexperienced quarterback under center.
Reggie Wayne, WR

He's still the primary, go-to guy in Indy, but the return of Anthony Gonzalez could limit his production. Not to mention the fact that breakout receiver Pierre Garcon made a living catching key passes from Manning late last season.

Philip Rivers, QB

Losing Vincent Jackson (and possibly offensive tackle Marcus McNeill) for the beginning of the season will hurt Rivers' stock badly. Probably the primary reason he was left out of my top 10.

Matt Schaub, QB

Houston was the best passing team in the league last season, and if Steve Slaton struggles again this year he could be passing the ball even more often.

Frank Gore, RB

Many guys would say he's a top 10 keeper, but for some reason he doesn't quite impress me as much as he impresses everyone else. I mean, yes, he did have a monster '06 season, but since then he's only been getting as much as 1,100 yards a season and has scored in double-digits only once. I do like his consistency and his ability to come out of the backfield, though.

The List:

10. Michael Turner, RB

Turner ran for only 871 yards last season, but that was because he ran the ball only 178 times in 11 games (4.9 yards per carry). With Turner back and healthy this year, he will hopefully play all 16 games and get the ball much more often. Especially since defenses will be focusing more and more on emerging QB Matt Ryan and the passing attack led by Roddy White.

Also, keep in mind that Atlanta likes to use Turner in the red zone. He scored 10 times on his 178 carries, giving him back-to-back double digit touchdown seasons.
9. Tom Brady, QB

Brady has surely dropped down the list pretty far over the last couple of seasons, which may have been caused by his inconsistent 2009 season in which he had great games but also had disappointing performances. According to ESPN, Brady had four games which he scored less than 10 fantasy points.

The return of Wes Welker early in the season will certainly help Brady out a bit, but he still may not be able to match that of Rodgers, Brees and Manning.

8. Andre Johnson, WR

Johnson is the go-to guy in last season's best passing offense. That, alone, should be enough to put Johnson, a physical, 6'3'' wideout from Miami. Johnson has put up two straight 1,500-plus yard seasons.

In his seven NFL seasons, the four-time Pro Bowler has yet to catch 10 or more touchdown passes in a single season, but this may finally be the year he accomplishes that feat. With Schaub, a top 10 quarterback, passing more than ever, Johnson could put up yet another 1,500 yard season as the Texans make the first playoff appearance in franchise history.

7. Maurice Jones-Drew, RB

Jones-Drew finally broke through for his first 1,000 yard season in 2009, but has been a touchdown machine in all four of his professional seasons.

Jacksonville doesn't exactly have what you would call a potent aerial attack (ranked 19th in passing yards last season), meaning the offense is revolved around MJD. In the red zone is where Jones-Drew has the most success--running for a career-high 15 touchdowns last season and a total of 34 in his previous three seasons.

The 25-year old back has been overlooked by such names as Johnson, Peterson and Jackson, but Jones-Drew is still a top-tier keeper and an automatic first round pick in non-keeper leagues.
6. Aaron Rodgers, QB

Believe it or not, a couple of "experts" have come out and said that Rodgers is the best fantasy quarterback out there. Although I highly disagree that he's the best of the best, he is still a top-five talent and ahead of Brady, Favre, Schaub and Rivers.

In his first two complete seasons as the starter in Green Bay, Rodgers has passed for 8,472 yards, 58 TDs and 20 INTs. Despite being sacked a league-high 50 times last season, Rodgers posted a rating of 103.2 while leading the Pack to an 11-5 record and a playoff spot.

Chances are Rodgers sees more time in the pocket and doesn't get sacked 50 times in 2010, meaning his numbers could see an increase from last season. Scary, I know.

5. Steven Jackson, RB

Much like Maurice Jones-Drew, St. Louis' offense revolves around Jackson. Especially since this year they will likely have rookie Sam Bradford under center.

Jackson only scored four times in 2009, which ties a career-low. But this year, he could easily score double-digit TDs. In 2006, he caught 90 for over 800 yards, plus his 1,500 yards and 13 TDs on the ground. That may have been four years ago, but he has yet to hit the wall and was just plagued by injuries in '07 and '08.

With Jackson looking to be back to full health, we could see a season much like his career-best 2006 campaign.
4. Drew Brees, QB

As scary as this may sound, New Orleans didn't lose anyone from their 2009 offense over the offseason. Brees threw for 4,388 yards and 34 TDs last season for an offense which ranked first in overall offensive yards gained.

Robert Meachem had a breakout season last year--45 receptions, 722 yards, nine TDs after just 12 receptions in his rookie season in '08--while Lance Moore had a bad year. If Brees can get more production from Meachem and a bounce-back year from Moore, Brees could improve on both his yards and touchdowns.

3. Peyton Manning, QB

What can I say about Manning? Everyone knows he is the most consistent quarterback in the game, who basically runs the offense on his own. But, his receivers will be back and healthy this year, meaning plenty more fantasy points from Mr. Fantasy himself.

Expect another 4,500 yards and 30-35 TDs. You know, the usual stat-line for Manning.

2. Adrian Peterson, RB

The definition of an off-year for AP? 1,300-plus yards and a league-high 18 rushing touchdowns.

Peterson's stock has been hurt badly by late season fumbles, which hurt his owners' chances of winning a league championship (this included me, lost by a couple points in the semi-finals). But, the yards and touchdowns will be there and he will have help from rookie Toby Gerhart, which will help keep AP's legs fresh.

If Adrian can work on holding on to the ball during camp, he could take his spot back as No. 1 fantasy player by season's end.
1. Chris Johnson, RB

Becoming just the sixth player in NFL history to rush for 2,000-plus yards in a single-season is what put him atop the fantasy rankings. On 358 carries, Johnson average 5.6 yards per carry and managed to get himself in to the end zone 16 times (14 rushing, two receiving).

Opposing defenses will be out to get Johnson, and defensive coordinators will most likely revolve their game plans around No. 28. That being said, he wont be able to break 2,000 for a second straight season, but because of Tennessee's offense he will certainly produce great numbers.

Other Possible Keepers: Tony Romo, Brett Favre, Larry Fitzgerald, Miles Austin, Donovan McNabb, Randy Moss.

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