Week 16: Dynasty Watch
As most fantasy leagues enter their semifinal week, over 50% of the teams in fantasy football have packed it in and are either continuing their fantasy addiction by scouting minor league pitchers and catchers to prep for fantasy baseball drafts or trying to decide on which new year's resolution they will try to stick to until February. As all successful fantasy football owners know (especially dynasty leaguers), even after the final tick on the clock at the pro bowl -- there is no offseason in fantasy football. Many will begin analyzing mock drafts to see who will be this year's Knowshon Moreno / LeSean McCoy and the savvy owner will develop a list of players to target that may emerge in 2010 because they are in prime position to overthrow an aging veteran on the decline. Some players might currently be backups, but are directly behind a player who may retire after 2009.
In this article we will focus on players whose value for 2010 is on the upswing. This column should be helpful to readers in keeper and dynasty leagues as well as those looking to construct the ultimate 2010 sleeper list.
The 49ers clearly do not have any intentions of turning back to Shaun Hill. Alex Smith has shown flashes of what made him the #1 overall pick in 2005. Before a difficult week 15 match-up in Philadelphia where he tossed three first half interceptions, Smith had nine touchdown passes and just three picks in his previous four games. He has very good targets in Josh Morgan, Michael Crabtree and Vernon Davis (and Frank Gore is an above average pass receiving running back). The 49ers do have two #1 picks in the 2010 draft so Smith's value would take a considerable hit if they decide to select a QB. However, Smith has shown enough promise and seems to excel in the shotgun attack so he seems like he will be the quarterback that will be under center for coach Singletary heading into 2010.
If he's able to improve on his offseason conditioning, Michael Bush could be the starting back for the Silver and Black in 2010. In a week 15 win over Denver, Bush rushed for 133 yards and a touchdown on 18 carries. In limited action, Bush is averaging more than a full yard per carry more than either Justin Fargas or Darren McFadden. The Raiders' backfield rotation is crowded, which will limit Bush's upside. Head coach Tom Cable has never been a big Bush supporter, so if there is an offseason coaching change it would likely boost his value. The 25 year old RB out of Louisville has shown flashes, but until he wins the starting job / bulk of the carries he will be nothing more than a high risk / high reward selection in 2010.
Charles is playing for a big role in 2010. In his sophomore season heading into week 16, he has a touchdown in six straight games and over 100 total yards in four of his last six games. He is a very good dynasty prospect and is showing the coaching staff he is able to be productive even while carrying a heavy load and while running behind a patchwork offensive line. Coach Haley seems to have found his every-down back for the foreseeable future -- now all the Chiefs need is an offensive line and a defense and they will be competitive. Monitor offseason signings as the Chiefs might bring in another runner this offseason to complement Charles (possibly a bigger goal line back). At only 5'11/ 199 pounds, Charles could be a durability concern, but his pass catching ability and burst in the open field make him a pretty safe pick in the late 2nd / 3rd round of most 2010 fantasy drafts.
On his way out of town, "Mangenius" put one last screw to many fantasy owners as in week 15 he decided to roll with Harrison despite reports that Chris Jennings would get the bulk of the carries coming off his impressive week 14 performance against the Steelers. Its difficult to fault Mangini as Harrison had a day for the ages against one of the more pitiful rush defenses in the league. With Mike Holmgren taking over the reigns in Cleveland in 2010 there's no telling what personnel moves he'll make, but this record setting day might go a long way to determining the starting running back in Cleveland on the opening day of 2010. Harrison now holds Cleveland's all-time record for rushing yards in a game, surpassing Jim Brown. His 284 yards are third most in a game in NFL history. The 26 year old back has a strong downhill running style and is above average at catching passes out the backfield. The Cleveland backfield is still up in the air heading into 2010 and Harrison has been inconsistent this year, so he should only be counted on as a RB3 until his role is clearly defined.
Why anyone kicks to this man is beyond insane and the Chiefs found out the hard way as Cribbs returned two kicks for touchdowns in the week 15 shootout win over KC. His all world kick returning is a true display of his game breaking abilities. Cribbs has the skill set to excel in a pass happy offense, but his upside on the offensive side of the ball has been limited in Cleveland by inconsistent quarterback play. With a still undefined role in the offseason, he'll be a risky pick; however, if new club President Mike Holmgren decides to give him more touches on offense, the sky's the limit for this game breaker. If Brady Quinn continues to progress in 2010, Cribbs could turn into a decent WR3 if he is provided more touches on offense.