2007 Year in Review
The key to success in fantasy football is finding those key players in the late rounds of your draft or off of the wavier wire that will breakout, complement the studs you already have, and make your team even better. This week's Year in Review article focuses on players whose stock has risen the most this season from a mid-to-late round draft pick (or even a wavier wire wonder) into a fantasy stud worthy of a high selection in next season's fantasy drafts.
A few of the players featured weren't big surprises that their stock rose significantly over the course of the season, such as New England's Randy Moss, Indianapolis' Reggie Wayne, Minnesota's Adrian Peterson, and Dallas' Tony Romo. While other players, such as Green Bay's Ryan Grant, Cleveland's Derek Anderson, and New England's Wes Welker weren't on anybody's fantasy radar on draft day.
Opening day starter Charlie Frye was traded to the Seattle Seahawks after Week 1 and Derek Anderson (the 4th year QB who had started just 3 games for the Browns in 2006) was named the starter over 1st round pick Brady Quinn. Anderson didn't disappoint Cleveland and their fans, leading the Browns to a 9-6 record and still fighting for a Wild Card playoff spot versus the San Francisco 49ers in their final game of the season.
Derek Anderson is hands down the fantasy breakout player of the 2007 season, going from the wavier wire to a must start in all leagues. Anderson is 9th in the league in passing yards with 3,635 and 5th in TD passes with 28. Anderson has also shown he can be a factor scrambling, rushing for 3 TD's in 2007. Derek Anderson was the breakout player of the 2007 season and trust me folks, he's no fluke either. Anderson will be one of the top QB's drafted next season. With a plethora of talent surrounding him, expect Anderson to put up similarly impressive numbers next season.
Coming off of a terrible month of December, followed up with a devastating playoff loss last season, Tony Romo most likely wasn't even ranked in your top 10 QB's on draft day. Romo turned out to be a steal for owners who managed to snag the 5th year QB, while next season Romo will be one of the first QB's taken in your league's draft. Romo is second in the NFL in passing yards and TD's (behind Tom Brady), completing 328 of 504 passes for 4,125 yards and 36 TD's through Week 16 of the 2007 season.
Romo's success can be attributed to a strong supporting cast that includes wide receivers Terrell Owens and Patrick Crayton and tight end Jason Witten, as well as two quality running backs in Marion Barber and Julius Jones. Romo's stock was one of the biggest risers at the QB position this season and not only did Romo prove he should be an every-week starter, but that he has risen to elite fantasy status and is the top QB in the NFC.
Early in the 2007 season Brett Favre was having one of the best season's of his career, but the Packers couldn't find a solution to their problems running the football. Green Bay began the season splitting carries between rookie Brandon Jackson and Vernand Morency. Ryan Grant was acquired from the New York Giants just prior to the start of the regular season and would become one of fantasy football's biggest breakout players this season.
Grant was given the starting role in Week 8 against the Denver Broncos and never looked back. In 9 starts since then, Grant has run for an impressive 874 yards (19th in the NFL) and 7 TD's (T-10th in the NFL). Fantasy owners who took a chance and picked up Ryan Grant off of the wavier wire greatly benefited from his strong second half performance. As long as Brett Favre remains the QB in Green Bay, Ryan Grant should be one of the top running-backs drafted in 2008 fantasy drafts as an excellent #2 complementary back worthy of consideration of a second or third round pick next year's drafts.
We all thought Jamal Lewis was over the hill and on the downside of his career once he was released by the Baltimore Ravens in the offseason after rushing for 1,132 yards and 9 TD's in 2006, but he disproved many experts (myself included) this season by rushing for 1,176 yards (7th in the NFL) and 9 TD's (T-6 in the NFL) in 14 starts for the upstart Cleveland Browns -- who are fighting for a Wild Card spot entering the final weekend of the regular season.
Jamal Lewis is worthy of consideration for fantasy comeback player of the year based on the fact that nobody drafted him as a 1,000 yard rusher who was going to carry their fantasy squad in 2007. Much like his teammates Derek Anderson, Braylon Edwards, and Kellen Winslow, Lewis has come out of nowhere and developed into a fantasy force to be reckoned with. Jamal Lewis still displays his downhill power running style, but has also showcased breakaway speed that many thought he lacked in his 8th season.
Jamal Lewis signed a 1 year contract with the Browns in the off-season and provided he returns next season, he will be the beneficiary of one of the league's best passing attacks and a quality offensive line that should make him one of the top running-backs drafted next season in most leagues.
Adrian Peterson (the consensus Rookie of the Year) was in contention for Fantasy MVP for much of the 2007 season as well and could challenge LaDainian Tomlinson as the #1 overall pick in 2008 fantasy drafts. In the pre-season I drafted Adrian Peterson in every single league I played in (including two expert leagues) based on his talent alone, believing he would develop into a fantasy stud as the season progressed. Few, including myself, believed Peterson would have the impact he ended up having in his first season with the Minnesota Vikings.
Peterson displayed amazing cutback vision, powerful downhill running, break-tackle ability, and blazing speed throughout the season as he rushed for 1,305 yards and 12 TD's in just 13 games -- second in both categories behind San Diego's LaDainian Tomlinson. Fittingly enough, Adrian Peterson broke the NFL single game rushing record versus San Diego by running for 296 yards and 3 TD's.
The only thing preventing Adrian Peterson from being the #1 overall pick in most leagues next season could be his injury history and the lack of a formidable passing game in Minnesota. As we saw last weekend against the Washington Redskins, teams will continue to stack 8 or 9 defenders in the box to stop Peterson and make Tarvaris Jackson beat them. If Peterson can stay healthy and the Vikings improve their passing game over the offseason, Peterson will become even better in 2008.