Week 17: Dynasty Watch
As we enter the final week of the NFL regular season, fantasy league champions are taking the trophy to get engraved while the less fortunate teams are complaining about why the Colts sabotaged their chance at fantasy championship glory. Some fantasy addicts have started scouting minor league pitchers and catchers to prep for fantasy baseball drafts, while others try 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.
In weeks 2 and 3 as Donovan McNabb rested his injured ribs, the Eagles got a glimpse of the future as Kolb became the first quarterback to ever throw for 300 yards in each of his first two career starts. The 36th overall pick of the 2007 draft displayed good mid-range passes and accuracy on slants and out patterns. The 33 year old McNabb has one year remaining on his contract and as the Eagles enter the playoffs they are likely to bring him back in 2010. Regardless, Kolb is the future under center and he is blessed with a strong arsenal of weapons at receiver with emerging superstar DeSean Jackson and 2009 #1 pick Jeremy Maclin. He may not pay dividends in 2010 but based on McNabb's injury history, Kolb is worth stashing in all dynasty leagues as one of the more promising quarterback prospects that is likely to have a starting job in 2011.
The Panthers are coming on strong toward the end of the 2009 season as they've posted impressive wins over Minnesota and Carolina. In seven career starts (four in 2009 and three in 2007), Matt Moore has five wins. He has two consecutive three touchdown games and has shown above average mobility (not exactly Jake Delhomme's strong suit). Moore has proven to be adept at managing the game and has developed a good chemistry with star receiver Steve Smith. Moore has 10 touchdowns and three interceptions in seven career starts. Even if/when Jake Delhomme (34 years old) and his inflated contract (five-year, $42.5 million contract extension through 2014) returns next season, the 25 year old Moore has earned at least a chance at a quarterback competition.
Brandon Jacobs' career appears to be on the decline as despite setting a career high in carries in 2009, he has zero 100 yard games and just five touchdowns. Despite battling ankle injuries for most of the season, Bradshaw might be the best/most explosive running back on the Giants' roster. Bradshaw has averaged 10-12 touches per game, but has topped 100 yards twice to go with seven touchdowns. He gives the Giants the best breakaway option in the backfield and the 23 year old back out of Marshall is likely to see his role expand in 2010 as it would not be surprising to see the Giants go with more of a 50/50 split between Bradshaw and Jacobs in hopes of keeping them off the injury list.
Donald Brown's rookie season has been plagued by shoulder and chest injuries that have limited his production. The first round pick out of UConn has not been a threat to Joseph Addai in 2009 as was expected in the preseason. Brown has missed five games due to injury and although he is a tough runner to bring down, he has been too fragile to rely on. He remains a solid backup RB for the Colts but still has a long way to go before he takes over the starting job. In limited action in week 16 against the Jets, Brown was impressive in pass protection for Manning and he also found the end zone (his 3rd touchdown this year). Barring an injury to Addai, Brown will likely remain a change of pace back in 2010. Addai will be a free agent after next season, opening the door for Brown if he's able to stay healthy and emerge (two big question marks).
As Michael Turner continues to miss games due to an ankle injury, Jason Snelling has more than admirably stepped in and may steal some carries from Turner even when he's healthy in 2010. The 26 year old RB out of Virginia is a versatile running back, as he has the size to succeed at the goal line (5'11, 229 lbs) but is also a very good receiver. In a week 14 loss to New Orleans, Snelling had over 100 total yards and a touchdown while splitting time with Jerious Norwood. All Turner owners that have the roster spot would be wise to target Snelling in 2010 as a handcuff pickup.