THUNDERING BLURB » rookies http://thunderingblurb.com ANDREW GARDA'S ENDLESS TAKES ON NFL AND COLLEGE FOOTBALL Fri, 22 Oct 2010 12:30:31 +0000 http://wordpress.org/?v=2.9.1 en hourly 1 Running Back Camp Battles to Watch Part 1 http://thunderingblurb.com/2009/06/running-back-camp-battles-to-watch-part-1/ http://thunderingblurb.com/2009/06/running-back-camp-battles-to-watch-part-1/#comments Sat, 13 Jun 2009 14:28:00 +0000 admin http://thunderingblurb.com/?p=438 While OTA’s are winding/have wound down, the NFL does not sleep. While the players get what passes for a vacation, media does not, especially since Brett Favre can’t make up his damned mind.

In perfect universal symmetry, neither can the Vikings. Marriage made in heaven or hell? We’ll find out soon enough.

In order to get you prepped for tons of footbally goodness at the end of July, I’ve decided to break down some of the more interesting running back battles to watch in July and August.

This is what happens when you drive cross country folks. You fill time.

This is also not to say that there won’t be battles we don’t see as important now, emerging down the pike as intriguing. But for now, these are ones that stand out as important immediately.

Without further ado (or more ado than usual at least) here are the Training Camp Battles to Watch: Running Backs.

Carolina: There is a ton of assumption going on here after DeAngelo Williams went off in 2008. We know John Fox loves to hang with his long term vets and you have to figure Williams earned some consideration. Still, Jonathan Stewart was able to score 10 TDs even with Williams numbers, so Fox is willing to work him in. Where this gets interesting is behind Stewart with Mike Goodson.

Stewart has been hurt during Mini’s and OTA’s and Goodson is a guy the team wants involved. Why does this matter? Because if Goodson gets a shot to shine and does so, this could become a three headed monster which might be great for Panther fans, though hurt the overall numbers of all three guys. Carolina runs a ton (504 pass attempts versus 414 passing according to footballguys.com) so there could be work for all, but that might be offset a tad by three running backs.

Baltimore: Will last year’s Thundering Blurb Mr. Glass Award Winner (TM) Willis McGahee, ever be healthy? My guess is no, sure as heck not coming off of two off-season surgeries. Both his knee (the one that has been hurt since…. um…. 1942?) and his ankle went under the knife. Stick a fork in him (or a scalpel), the man is DONE. The Ravens may not agree and we’ll get a sense of that in Training Camp. That could mean the start of the Ray Rice Ruckus (also (TM)).

Rice showed some skills last season when he was healthy and should get a ton of the carries. He won’t do it alone, however and whether the teams sticks with rookie Cedric Peerman, moves Le’Ron McClain back from fullback (where he went during OTA’s) or adds some work for Jalen Parmele. How the backs behind Rice shake out could impact his numbers very sigificantly.

Buffalo: With Marshawn Lynch suspended the first few games of the season, Fred Jackson will get his time to shine again. Jackson looked great in limited (sometimes not-so-limited) action last season. But the Bills acquired journeyman Dominic Rhodes this offseason to protect themselves and he’ll duke it out for lead bell cow while ‘Dis Muh Son’ Lynch is in Goodell’s pokey.

This battle, mostly between Jackson and Rhodes is critical because whomever wins the top spot might not relinquish it when Lynch comes back and could factor in with what the Bills do with the troubled back long term if he can’t get his head straight.

Cincinnati: I know the Bengals think they have some sort of hidden gem in Cedric Benson, and I’m happy for them but remain unconvinced. Benson did well behind a tragic offensive line, which will not be the case if rookie Andre Smith can get his act together. But I can’t help but recall all the problems Benson had in Chicago, so I am not annointing him anything and neither should Cinci. Brian Leonard and Bernard Scott are both good short yardage backs who can catch the ball and could make some noise.

Scott will have to overcome some maturity issues and they will both have to shine in camp to wrest carries away from Benson. That’s completely possible in my opinion so I will be interested to watch this camp closely.

Denver: There are three sure things in football right now – Brett Favre will be considering and waffling about a comeback in the spring and early summer, the Raiders will make decisions based on logic only they can comprehend and the Broncos running back situation will be a cloudy mess.

But have we lost one of those sure things? Surprising everyone in this April’s Draft, the Donks took Knowshon Moreno, the talented back from Georgia and the interwubs is all a-twitter (or all twittering) about Moreno carrying the whole load.

For sure, he can do it all – block, run, catch. But will Head Coach Josh McDaniels truly rely on one back? His former team, the Patriots, didn’t. Of course, you can argue they lacked a back like Moreno.

All I know is Moreno has the ability to do it. But with recent additions Correll Buckhalter, Lamont Jordan and Darius Walker, along with impressive 2008 rookie Peyton Hillis, this is a camp battle you have to watch. Considering they no longer have Jay Cutler slinging the ball, the run game is of paramount importance this year.

Indianapolis: It wasn’t that long ago that Joseph Addai was the answer in Colt-land at running back. A few injury-plagued seasons later, Donald Brown is drafted and Addai is poised to lose most of his carries.

Brown can do pretty much everything Addai can do, and might have the size to stay healthy as well. Most analysts feel it is only a matter of time before Brown takes over the higher percentage of carries in this obvious running-back-by-committee.

What I want to know is, what percentage does he start the season off with? A good camp by Brown could give him a large role in this prolific offense.

That’s it for today’s installment. I’ll be back tomorrow with a look at some more teams, including who might be backing up MJD in Jacksonville, what Philadelphia is looking at if Westbrook stays hurt and who will be the top dog in the mess that is the Seahawks’ run game.

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Fantasy Rookies 2009: The Wide Receivers (Part Two) http://thunderingblurb.com/2009/05/fantasy-rookies-2009-the-wide-receivers-part-two/ http://thunderingblurb.com/2009/05/fantasy-rookies-2009-the-wide-receivers-part-two/#comments Sat, 30 May 2009 00:30:00 +0000 admin http://thunderingblurb.com/?p=437 Welcome to part two of my look at the rookie wide receiver draft class and it’s potential impact on your fantasy team.

Today we look at some players who are shakier than the first group but may have just as much long-term potential.

A few could even produce this year.

Kenny Britt, TEN
Britt is a guy with a nice combination of ability and opportunity. Britt joins a decent but no-exactly Pro Bowl group with oft-hurt Justin Gage and inconsistent vertical threat Nate Washington. With his good hands and physical play, he should be able to carve out a niche in the offense and could become a possession receiver who is Kerry Collins’ best friend next season. However, it’s not like Collins throws 100 times a game so how much productivity will he have? Britt is a fringe guy for the top 5 rookies and if he has a good camp, might be worth a late flier in a redraft. I think Dynasty-wise he’s worth a look in the first few rounds (not first though).

Brian Robiskie, CLE
Robiskie is in an interesting situation and so far has impressed in camp. Tony Grossi from the Cleveland Plains Dealer says his two TD catches from Brady Quinn in red-zone drills along with the as-advertised crisp routes and overall polish make him an early leader for a #2 spot. There is a glut of other WRs there (including fellow rookie Mohamed Massaquoi), we don’t know who will be QB (though Quinn is looking good) and what impact Braylon Edwards has are all unanswered right now. Robiskie (and perhaps Massaquoi) could emerge during the season as a nice WR3 or 4. I would be careful in redraft but in Dynasty, Robiskie looks like a good bet to succeed down the road. Hopefully this will clear up a bit during training camp.

Mike Thomas, Jarrett Dillard, JAX
There isn’t much to prevent either of these two guys from breaking out other than Tory Holt and the bad history of wide receiver drafting in Jacksonville. However, Holt is a great person to mentor these guys and there is a lot to like about Dillard and Thomas both which might have been lacking in previous picks. Both rookies are already huge presences at the team facilities and are getting accolades from coach Jack Del Rio. Dillard was a great leader at Rice who, while a bit undersized, can leap to make grabs and plays bigger than he is. Thomas is also a little smaller than you’d like in a WR, but is a tough guy across the middle, has some speed and was very productive at Arizona. Both of these guys have upside, I expect the OLine and overall offense should be snappier and Holt isn’t a long term solution. Watch these guys and see which seems to emerge in August as a potential late round Wr or a dynasty pick who could be productive by the end of the year.

Juaquin Iglesias & Johnny Knox, CHI
With Jay Cutler coming to town you have to take a hard look at the wide receiver corps. There are a bunch of guys they will compete with – Hester, Bennett, Davies – but none have captured the first spot and run away with it. Hester (allegedly) is looking better than ever. But even the #2 slot on this team could be huge with Cutler throwing the ball. Iglesias is a tough, with good body control and a willingness to go across the middle. If he can become a reliable target, he could see a lot of work thrown his way though he might fight from looks with tight end Greg Olson. Knox is a vertical threat and he’ll see more competition from Hester. I’m still not sold on Hester and think there is room for Knox to move in, but it can be a risk. I would avoid either one in a redraft but either one could be a decent lat pick in a rookie draft.

Brandon Tate, WR
Tate is an intriguing guy – he has talent but he’s coming off of an injury which was pretty bad. Testing positive for drugs at the Combine doesn’t speak well of his smarts either. Even if Tate comes back and keeps clean, he’s a few years away from impacting the lineup. Undraftable in redraft and not worth anything more than a late spot on most Dynasty rosters as well.

Other guys I like:
Ramses Barden, NYG – Barden has to beat out Nicks and learn to use his body better but I’m a well known Barden Booster and I think he will emerge as a player in a year or two. He was prolific at the college level, even though he played against lesser quality opponents. He’s a hard worker and while there are a bunch of wide receivers to vie with for time, I think he has what it takes to succeed.

Patrick Turner, MIA – There aren’t a ton of world beaters in Miami and Turner has a shot to compete for a starting spot. He’s not a speed demon, doesn’t get much separation and isn’t a deep threat. He’s an aggressive player – and tough – so he could carve out a red zone/short yardage niche in the offensive scheme.

Derrick Williams, DET – A guy who is not likely to explode for several years but might match up nicely with Calvin Johnson down the road. He has the speed to be so – but he was never terribly productive at Penn State so his ceiling is a big question mark.

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Fantasy Rookies 2009: The Quarterbacks http://thunderingblurb.com/2009/05/fantasy-rookies-2009-the-quarterbacks/ http://thunderingblurb.com/2009/05/fantasy-rookies-2009-the-quarterbacks/#comments Wed, 06 May 2009 03:28:00 +0000 admin http://thunderingblurb.com/?p=433

Now that we’ve had a little bit of time to digest the draft and overcome our shocks, hangovers, or disappointments, it’s time to start breaking down the players from the most important direction possible—their impact on your fantasy football squad.

Priorities, right?

This is the first in a series of articles which will cover various positions for both Dynasty and Redraft leagues.

I’ll start by saying something I have said multiple times already prior to and after the draft, and will say pretty much at the top of all of these articles—do not be fooled by last year’s numbers. We will—in all likelihood—not see the success that we did last year.

So for Dynasty, keep thinking about long term ramifications as much as (if not more than) short term. In redraft, do not over-value a rookie and leap on one too early, as it is unlikely most of them will pay off this season.

There will be precious few studs with immediate impact this season—and I would hazard a guess that none of them will reside in today’s category, the quarterbacks.

If this class was a weak one from a pure football standpoint, it isn’t much better from a fantasy one. There are a few who might play this season, a few with long term upside, and many who will be sitting on a waiver wire for a very long time.

With that, here are my thoughts on the 2009 rookie quarterbacks, ranked in order of their draft position, with a rank at the end of how effective I think they will be long and short term.

Matthew Stafford, Detroit Lions

Stafford has the arm to take advantage of Calvin Johnson’s vertical game and, yes, he’s a guy who can either buy time in the pocket or throw on the run, which he will need unless that offensive line pulls a miracle.

Stafford looks like he might have the tools to succeed down the road, but that’s my biggest concern—will he be allowed to develop or will he be rushed out this season?

The Lions are saying all the right things; that Daunte Culpepper is the guy this year, that Stafford needs time to learn and get used to the NFL.

But six or seven games in, will he be on the bench if the Lions stay lousy?

I know I have been in the midst of arguments that the Lions’ offensive line isn’t that bad off, but I have my doubts about that. And on top of that, I prefer a quarterback to sit for a season before being thrown in to the fire. A QB’s psyche is sometimes a fragile thing.

Yes, Peyton Manning survived and got better in spite of that initial hellish season one. Many, many quarterbacks did not and they far outnumber the survivors.

If he gets most of the season to adjust to the NFL, I like Stafford quite a bit. His arm, his feet, all the little things he does well. But I like him less if he gets thrown to the wolves in the NFC North too soon.

That offense would live and die by his arm and I don’t think it has the tools for him to bring that off. If he goes in, and they double cover Johnson or stack the box against Kevin Smith, what then?

He can’t win it all and behind that offensive line, I worry about the pounding he might get and its results.

Dynasty Rank

First round rookie, with the hopes he gets the time to work up to starter. If you own Culpepper, you almost have to have him unless you have better.

Redraft Rank

A late addition—probably near QB 28-30. He could bump up if he wins the job outright, though not much and I’m hoping sense prevails and he sits.

Mark Sanchez, NY Jets

Sanchez’s situation is at once similar to Stafford’s and also wildly different.

Let me explain. I love the upside of Sanchez, he can make all the throws you need, is a natural leader, a hard worker, and a very smart player.

That said, like Stafford, he’d benefit from a little time to develop.

Unlike Stafford, though, he has a better chance of survival if he is thrown in the mix early.

Whereas the Lions would need Stafford to do a ton of heavy lifting, the Jets built their offensive line to be a power run blocking line.

Yes, they utterly got away from that when Favre showed up. That’s reason number 4,546 why Eric Mangini is a Brown.

But ultimately, that’s what they are. And in that case, the quarterback’s burden is much easier.

Sanchez is a guy who has already impressed the team with his hard work and overall play and while they—like the Lions—say all the right things about it being a competition, it isn’t looking like that.

Sanchez has a better chance of being stuck in a No. 1 spot at the beginning of the season and he also has a better chance of survival if he is thrown directly into the fire.

That said, even if he’s wildly successful, he’s not likely to have to throw often (assuming the Jets’ defense and run offense work out) and so he won’t be a guy who blows up this season.

Longer term, until they get him a legit No. 1 wide receiver, he will lag behind Stafford assuming he (Stafford) survives.

Dynasty Rank

Like Stafford, he’s a first round rookie, and in his case is probably safer to start in a bye week. But long term right now, I put him behind Stafford. Until the Jets get him some vertical weapons, he is unlikely to match Stafford’s potential long term production.

Redraft Rank

Again, a guy who you probably look at after most of the veteran starters are gone. I think the same things that might limit his long term potential—the offensive schemes, the defense—make him a safer bet than Stafford to put consistent points up. Those points still won’t make him reliable as much more than a bye week or emergency filler.



Josh Freeman, Tampa Bay Buccaneers

After leaping over non-existent teams desperate to grab Freeman and all the “I know this kid, he’s AWESOME” talk from the head coach, I don’t know I believe Freeman doesn’t start at some point.

Still, there is a good chance we see Byron Leftwich as the starter come week one, despite Freeman’s really ill-advised (and perhaps flat out incorrect) statement that Leftwich was just “smokescreen” to throw people off the scent.

Riiiiiiight.

Freeman is a big, tough, quarterback with a strong arm who has lots of experience and pretty good mobility.

Two things don’t work for me about him.

First, stuff like that statement about Leftwich really tell me he’s not much of a leader, no matter what many sites have said otherwise. How is that the way you want to enter a locker-room? How do you win that place over?

Not smart. Worse, it smacks (in my mind) of Ryan Leaf. He expects to be “the man.” I wonder if that work ethic, which was a plus in college, will exist at the Pro level.

More importantly is that he was incredibly streaky in college and, as much as he would succeed, he would go a game throwing picks and bad passes. For example, his November 1 game against Kansas. Freeman threw no touchdown passes in the 52-21 loss, while tossing three interceptions and getting sacked three times.

The fact that the Bucs were at that game disturbs me. So does the fact that he didn’t throw any touchdown passes in four games against Texas A&M, Colorado, Kansas, and Missouri.

Yes, he lacked big time players. I still say some of the best—most successful—quarterbacks had success at the college level despite a dearth of top talent.

And who does he have in Tampa? Antonio Bryant, who finally lived up to expectations last year but who isn’t a sure bet to repeat, and a decent run game. And some real questions on the defensive side of the ball.

Does it really sound all that much better?

That doesn’t mean he won’t succeed. I just don’t like his chances.

Dynasty Rank

A distant third behind Stafford and Sanchez and even then I don’t like him. To me, he’s a project (which really all these guys are to some extent) and I’d rather grab another skill position and pick up another quarterback later or trade out for a QB in next year’s draft.

Redraft Rank

I wouldn’t even draft him unless he was sure to start and even then, I don’t know if I would go for him when he might get drafted. I would rather pick up a backup earlier and then value at another position while someone risks a pick on Freeman.

Pat White, Miami Dolphins

Is he a quarterback or is he a wide receiver? Is he an every down player or is he a gadget guy like Brad Smith of the NY Jets?

These questions make him a risky pick in any draft.

Still, taking him in the second is a sign they expect something of him and reports are that he will challenge Chad Henne for backup duties.

Henne had the locker room and skills last season, and might have started if Pennington hadn’t arrived. Until the draft, many were predicting Henne would start sometime in 2010.

On top of the extreme athleticism and trick play skills, White is actually a decent quarterback and many scouts stopped looking at him as a hybrid or wide receiver conversion. He’s smart and looked very accurate in every workout the past few months.

Still, it’s one thing to throw balls in shorts and perfect weather (or no weather like at the Combine) and another with Bart Scott bearing down on you.

It’s a little soon to guess which way this is going to go and how White will adjust to the NFL. Many players like him have failed as QBs and either transitioned to another position or dropped out of the league.

But he has the upside and potential to be a dynamic player at this level too. It’s a coin flip.

Do keep in mind—if he is categorized as a quarterback by the league, most league sites will do the same and then he may not be available to you as a flex player, which might be his best value if he gets used in the Wildcat formation a ton.

Dynasty Rank

A guy you take later in your rookie draft as a pure upside pick. If you don’t have a ton of holes, he’s worth a look. But if you have other needs, don’t burn the roster spot. When he takes a year or two to develop, owners may get frustrated and you could find him on the waiver wire to pick up at your leisure.

Redraft Rank

You’ll have to wait, but if you can hold on until the last quarter of your draft, he could be a really interesting upside pick.

If he is integrated as a new wrinkle on the Wildcat, he might prove a useful flex player assuming your league is set up to accommodate. But the trick will be waiting long enough to where you won’t be angry when you drop him for more consistent injury or bye week help.

Nate Davis, San Francisco

You have to keep an eye on the guy who has only Shaun Hill, Damon Huard, and Alex Smith ahead of him on the depth chart.

Davis has a strong arm, is a good team leader, and has great touch and timing. He’s a hard worker and exceedingly competitive, which strikes me as a very Singletary trait.

He does have a learning disability but that hasn’t fazed the 49ers, and he definitely needs some work both in mechanics and the fact that he rarely worked under center.

Still, there isn’t a lot of incredibly impressive talent in front of him and with Josh Morgan, Isaac Bruce, and the newly drafted Michael Crabtree, whoever the starter is has some fantasy potential.

Davis is likely a longer term project but you never know and he’s worth keeping an eye on.

Dynasty Rank

More attractive if you happen to have Alex Smith on your roster already but Davis is likely to slip out of a rookie draft in all but the deepest leagues with a long rookie draft. Watch the QB battle in San Fran over the summer closely and be ready to hit the waiver wire. Just in case.

Redraft Rank

Not someone you’ll be drafting in a redraft league unless you draft late and he’s won the job. But like in a Dynasty league, you’ll want to keep an eye on the QB battle and a finger on the waiver wire trigger. The weapons in that offense could be very productive, and in that case, Davis could be as well.

The following two QBs are worth noting in Dynasty leagues but not worth looking at really at all in a redraft.

Stephen McGee, Dallas Cowboys

McGee is a very underrated quarterback who could take over down the road if he develops well and Romo keeps losing games late in the season. Very raw though and will burn a roster spot unless you have a taxi squad in your league.

Tom Brandstater, Denver Broncos

While it’s unlikely he’ll see the field anytime soon, Brandstater has a nice touch, timing, and is very smart. Is this McDaniels’ attempt to replicate Cassel? Probably not due to a lack of arm strength but there is enough confusion at the Denver QB position to keep an eye on him in Dynasty leagues.

This will be worth revisiting during the summer and we will, here as well as on The Thundering Blurb Football Show every Wednesday. Some street free agents may end up being worth a Dynasty look and some of these players may find themselves firmly in possession of a clipboard.

But for now, here’s hoping this helps you start to get ready for your Fantasy Football drafts.

I’ll be back next week with a breakdown of running backs.

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Interesting Dustin Keller stat http://thunderingblurb.com/2008/12/interesting-dustin-keller-stat/ http://thunderingblurb.com/2008/12/interesting-dustin-keller-stat/#comments Thu, 04 Dec 2008 17:49:00 +0000 admin http://thunderingblurb.com/?p=345 So, now this is not turning into a Jets blog, despite my interview with Eric Boland of New York Newsday on the Blurb last night and now this story.

This morning, Eric posted this story on his blog at Newsday.com regarding rookie TE Dustin Keller. Here’s the link but the gist of it is that Keller is having a ridiculous rookie season, only trailing Shockey for production by the recent era of guys at the position.

Yes, better than Gates, Witten and Gonzalez. In fact, according to the article (given to Eric by a reader with even more time on his hands than I have) it lookes like only four tight ends in the history of the position have had better first seasons.

Shockey – 74 receptions, 894 yards, 2 tds
Keith Jackson – 81 receptions, 869 yards, 6 tds
Mike Ditka – 50 receptions, 1076 yards, 12 tds
John Mackey – 35 receptions, 726 yards, 7 tds

I haven’t fact checked these but damn. I’m not ready to crown him or anything, but he has played very, very well. Certainly worth what they paid to move up and grab him. On a side note, how often do we forget what Ditka did on the field? I forget he played sometimes, as if he sprang from the earth wearing a sweater vest and yelling. But that’s some damned good numbers for Iron Mike and we forget about that at times.

Should have a fairly good end stretch here as well, as Favre definitely loves his rookie target.

Check out the article – the guy who hooked Boland up with it did a good job.

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2008 – the year of the fantasy rookie http://thunderingblurb.com/2008/10/2008-the-year-of-the-fantasy-rookie/ http://thunderingblurb.com/2008/10/2008-the-year-of-the-fantasy-rookie/#comments Wed, 08 Oct 2008 13:40:00 +0000 admin http://thunderingblurb.com/?p=224 While finishing up the top RB by Strength of Schedule article – which we will talk about tonight on the Thundering Blurb Fantasy Football Show – I noticed something about the RB list I had made.

There were tons of rookies on it. And it isn’t just RBs.

When we look back at this year in fantasy football, along with the underproduction and injury plague that has again befallen a portion of the top 10, we may see this as a unique year where a huge portion of rookies at all positions put up stellar numbers.

Whether it be the growing list of rookie RBs who have graced us with exceptional numbers or the very rare wide receiver rookie who has been fairly playable this year, it’s definitely been bonus time for many owners who grabbed one of the rooks late in the draft or quickly off the waiver wire.

Steve Slaton, Felix Jones, Matt Forte, DeSean Jackson and to a lesser extent Eddie Royal, Jonathan Stewart, Darren McFadden – all have been more than playable on a regular basis.

Oh and that Matt Ryan fellow does all right down in atlanta, huh? Playable Rookie Qbs – almost as rare as playable rookie WRs.

And by playable, I don’t mean they are merely warm bodies for an emergency. No, depending on the league, these guys are playable weekly. Heck in the Fantasy Sportswriters Association league, I can roll out Matt Forte and know each week I am getting great production.

And while Matt Ryan isn’t a top 10 QB, he’s already in the top 20 in many leagues and is a perfectly legit option in a QBBC. Hell, this year he’s been better than guys like Pennington and Carson Palmer while not far behind Peyton Manning and Jake Delhomme.

While Palmer and Manning are certainly having off years, it does point to how research and paying attention to the NFL draft and preseason can pay off.

Matt Forte is a top 5 back in many leagues. Steve Slaton and Chris Johnson haunt the top 10.

How valuable is it to have either of those guys? How much more if you drafted both? In more than one league I took Forte in the 5-8 rounds and then grabbed Slaton very late. It’s worked out hasn’t it?

We had an inkling that Forte might be worth rostering. He was the sole back in Chicago. They needed to run. Seemed to make sense. That he has turned out to be the immense talent they hope Cedric Benson would be but never was is a shock, but looking at some of the predraft rankings on sites like DraftCountdown.com and the postdraft reactions of guys like Sigmund Bloom at Draftguys.com, you could see he might be something to watch.

But even those of us who pour over tape all off-season have been caught short when it comes to Forte’s production.

What does this mean? Is it time to start seriously looking at more rookies than just the odd Adrian Peterson?

It’s a fair question. Why has this crop been so productive?

Injury has allowed some players to step up early. In the case of the RBs, we’re talking about an unusually talented crop of guys – one of the reason RBs were not being mocked as going early in the NFL draft to teams that needed them (aside from McFadden, Stewart and Mendenhall) is that the RB class was talented and deep. While more Rbs went in the first than was expected (Chris Johnson was a surprise, Felix Jones not as much), many teams waited a round or two and grabbed guys late. These guys had talent, but many fantasy owners looked past them and their situations because ‘he got grabbed in the 3rd – he must not be very good’.

A big mistake in many cases. Draft position, as we know, isn’t everything.

The dual back system has also helped these guys. Years ago (not even that many), Felix Jones would never have seen any carries unless Mario Barber got hurt. Just wouldn’t have happened. But now, teams are willing run out more than one back – sometimes in the same backfield, but at least more often than just to spell a tired stud.

Matt Ryan stepped into a situation that looked bad but wasn’t as bad as we feared. They tried to improve the oline. They had a very good running back tandem to take the pressure off him. They knew they had to protect their franchise QB and they did. Also, turns out the WRs weren’t as bad when someone could hit them consistently with a pass.

It’s very rare for a QB to shine as a rookie. More often than not, if they are in the game their first year, it’s because the team is desperate. It has huge holes. They cannot be protected. Ryan is in the perfect situation. It may be hard to repeat.

What we will need to do throughout the season and after it is over, is look at each of these guys in turn and breaking down how they did what they did. Was it opportunity due to injury as with DeSean Jackson? Was it a misjudged oline and an instant starting shot, like Forte? Were they just far better than we knew – like Slaton?

Things to watch as we move into and past Week 6. For sure, we’ll all be paying very close attention to these guys and those that follow in the coming years.

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