It’s March, and yes I miss fantasy football. If you’re reading this, I am sure you do too. The 2009 NFL free agency extravaganza has been, as always, more than interesting; and with the T.O. implosion landing in Buffalo, it is time to break down the fantasy value of various players and units that have undergone change this offseason.
2009 Fantasy Football Outlook: Terrell Owens
After being abruptly released by Dallas in normal T.O. fashion, that being a disaster, T.O. quickly landed on his feet again in Buffalo. What does this mean to you as a fantasy football team owner?
If you are in a keeper league and currently have him, keep him!
His first years with new teams, minus his rookie year for the 49ers, are great statistically. In addition, he usually does not start the erosion of his relationships with him quarterback and coach until year two, precisely why Buffalo used their brains and signed him to a one-year deal. Buffalo could not buy touchdowns through the air last year, and Trent Edwards’ maturation process with the addition of Owens will definitely lead to more scoring, thus increasing Edwards fantasy value as well.
In a keeper league I would not take Owens before the 9th round, and not before the 7th round in standard leagues. Still, T.O. is running out of coaches and teams to burn, so he will be a model employee this year for the Bills.
2009 Fantasy Football Outlook: The New England Patriots Defense
Forget about the loss of Mike Vrabel. With their core group of now second year linebackers in Jerod Mayo and Shaun Crable, they will not be phased by Vrabel’s departure.
The Patriots also retained Rodney Harrison and just signed free agents Shawn Springs and Leigh Bodden. Although Springs has played 13 NFL seasons, he is still considered a shut down type corner back. I also consider Bodden to be an above average cover cornerback. Adding these two to their defense which already has Ellis Hobbs gives them three quality cornerbacks to match up well against any offense with three talented receivers.
This is a very talented defense and I would keep them as well in a keeper league if you currently have them. On draft day, the defenses usually start going in 12-team leagues around the fifth round. When the first defense comes off of the board, whereever that may be, the Patriots D should not be far behind!
2009 Fantasy Football Outlook: The Denver Broncos Defense
Staying with the defensive theme, the Broncos Defense was horrible last year and not worthy of ever starting. This offseason, the Broncos have been very active in their signings on the defensive side of the ball. Denver’s acquisitions include linebacker Andre Davis, safety Brian Dawkins, defensive tackle Ronald Fields, cornerback Andre Goodman, safety Renaldo Hill, defensive end Kenny Peterson and defensive tackle Darrell Reid.
The most notable players out of this group are Brian Dawkins and Andre Davis. Dawkins is a hard-hitting, emotional leader who will clearly set the tone for this defense. Dawkins leaves it all on the field and will expect the same from his teammates. Davis, who has started in Cleveland his entire career, will also improve their porous defense from a year ago.
I view the Broncos Defense as a great sleeper to draft as your second defense this year. There are always offenses that you as a fantasy owner never want your team to have to face, and if your number one D is playing one of these offenses, like the Patriots, if Denver has a weaker match up, they would be a good play to maximize your points for your defense that week.
2009 Fantasy Football Outlook: Fred Taylor
Taylor’s disrespectful release by the Jaguars means a few things. First, Maurice Jones-Drew’s stock just went through the ceiling. Secondly, The Jag’s offense just lost their most prolific running back in franchise history. Fred Taylor has quietly had one of the top 20 statistical careers of all time. Taylor, underappreciated by NFL fans as a whole by only reaching the Pro Bowl one time, will be a force if given the opportunity in New England.
The key word is “IF”.
For those of you who have never had a New England Patriot running back since the retirement of Corey Dillon, you will never know week in and week out which back of the 200 they use will get the carries. When Dillon retired, Laurence Maroney was the runaway favorite to be an every down back. Years later and many injuries later, that has not happened. This roster still has Kevin Faulk, BenJarvus Green-Ellis and Sammy Morris — all three of which had good fantasy weeks last year depending on who was their favorite, or healthy, back on any given week.
Since Fred Taylor was splitting carries the last couple years, I can see him having two to three good seasons left in him. I like Taylor’s upside and if available in any double digit rounds, I would take him if the opportunity was there. Do yourself a favor and collect the rest of this Patriots group as well with the exception of Faulk.
2009 Fantasy Football Outlook: T.J. Houshmandzadeh
The biggest question here is, “Can T.J. continue his success as the #1 receiver versus his being a #2 behind a clear cut #1 stud?”
The answer: “Yes!”
If healthy, T.J. Houshmandzadeh is as talented as most of the top receivers in the NFL. Matt Hasslebeck just gained a new favorite target to team up with tight end John Carlson and wide receivers Deion Branch and Nate Burleson. I would expect T.J. to go in the sixth round in most leagues. I consider him a steal any further then the eight round.
2009 Fantasy Football Outlook: Laveranues Coles
You can copy and paste everything that I spoke on T.J. Houshmandzadeh and place next to Coles. If Chad Johnson, sorry — “Chad Ocho-Cinco”, stays with the Bengals, Carson Palmer will not notice the absence of Houshmandzadeh. Coles will be as effective as the Bengals offensive line allows him to be, meaning: give Palmer time, Coles will produce.
This group are to this point what I consider to be the most notable offseason signings concerning fantasy value. Look for my fantasy football 2009 NFL draft recap for instant impact rookie players for your 2009 rosters. If I missed someone and you are looking for insight, drop me a note to the article in the comment section.
Editor’s note: Kurt will be managing the first ever Midwest Sports Fans Fantasy Football League starting next season. Obviously he had to give JRod a slot in the league so he wouldn’t whine and bitch, but that just means that last place is already filled in. If you are interested in playing, shoot Kurt an email at firstname.lastname@example.org and be prepared to state your case and fantasy credentials. We want the best of the best.
Terrell Owens photo credit: AP Photo/The Buffalo News, James P. McCoy
Fred Taylor photo credit: Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images