— Dr. Seuss in “The Sneetches”
Those who play fantasy footall know what to do. They draft lots of Sneetches, they study them, too.
Peterson, Fitzgerald and Brees are all stars. They are the players with stars upon thars.rs,
But what about the plain-belly sort? Those such as Schaub, Moreno and Moore?
Those who win titles must attempt a few reaches. They are the ones who take all sorts of Sneetches. …
Just like in Dr. Seuss’ classic book, everyone can tell before the season which players are stars. It is as if these players wear bright green stars on their chests — they stand out on top of every cheatsheet. They are the gold standard of fantasy dependency.
However, these players only last the first couple rounds. They are not the players who will ultimately define your fantasy season and how far you make it into the postseason.
Those players are hidden within the Plain-Belly Sneetches, but will rightfully earn their respective stars during the course of the season.
These are the Sneetches that I’ll try to draft, the ones who in 2009 will master their craft:
WR Greg Jennings, Green Bay.
Jennings finished last season sixth among all fantasy receivers in receiving yards (1292) and seventh in touchdowns (9). He is the go-to receiver in an offense that is built to pass, has a young quarterback that continues to gain confidence and a running game that is solid enough to keep defenses honest, but not so talented as to take away from the passing game. The rapport between Rodgers and Jennings is excellent. There is no reason to believe that Greg Jennings doesn’t take the next step towards being an elite receiver in the league, I actually believe he’ll be a top-five receiver by year’s end (behind Fitzgerald, Andre Johnson and Calvin Johnson).
QB Matt Schaub, Houston.
I’ve beaten my 2009 man crush with Schaub to death in recent columns. I’ll avoid getting into details yet again. The bottom line is that he’s in the perfect scheme to succeed this year, and will finish the season as an elite fantasy option.
TE Kellen Winslow, Tampa Bay.
Watch tight ends such as Jason Witten, Antonio Gates and Tony Gonzalez be taken early, and then snag Winslow in the later rounds and feel good about your investment. Winslow, at least for the time being, has cleaned up his act, devoted himself to football and is emerging as the center of the Bucs offense according to early reports. Consider this quote from Tampa OC Jeff Jagodzinski: “I’ve been very, very fortunate with the guys that I’ve had. I had Bubba Franks as a rookie (in Green Bay). I had Alge Crumpler (in Atlanta), who was as good a tight end as I’ve been around … I use those guys a lot. Quite a bit.” The Buccaneers don’t have a ton of receiving options, so expect Winslow to finally capitalize on his size and athletic potential.
RB Chris “Beanie” Wells, Arizona.
Recent news from Cardinal-land is that Tim Hightower will be the starting running back in week one. Let your leaguemates sweat that out a little, and hopefully Wells will fall to you. There is no doubt that Wells will be the main weapon out of that backfield throughout the season, and considering the passing game already in place in Arizona, Wells won’t have to carry the weight of the team on his shoulders. The Cardinals play against a number of suspect defenses this year, and as they run up the score, Wells will have plenty of opportunities to tote the rock and run out the clock.
RB Marshawn Lynch, Buffalo.
A player that represents great risk, but if he falls to the fifth or sixth round in your respective fantasy drafts, may be a worthwhile investment. At the moment, he is suspended the first three weeks of the season, but an appeal may ultimately shorten that amount by a game or so. Either way, Lynch has some demons that will keep other owners away, but when he does play, he has the size and improving offense around him to translate into decent stat opportunities. Yes, Fred Jackson will start the season in the Buffalo backfield, but Lynch is the better back. Consider that the Bills have improving QB Trent Edwards and suddenly a formidable one-two punch at receiver with Terrell Owens and Lee Evans, and he has the opportunity to become the back that many predicted he would last season.
WR Bernard Berrian, Minnesota.
At this point, it’s just a formality that Brett Favre will quarterback the Vikings in 2009. No player benefits the most from that news than Bernard Berrian, who was frothing at the mouth at the prospect of Favre in purple all offseason. Consider that Berrian had nearly 1,000 yards receiving last year with Tavaris Jackson heaving him the pigskin. Consider that Adrian Peterson will demand attention from opposing defenses. Consider that Percy Harvin will attact at least a little attention elsewhere on the field. This will be Berrian’s season to shine, and will easily produce solid numbers at a fraction of the cost.
QB Trent Edwards, Buffalo.
It isn’t hard to explain the reasoning behind Edwards as a QB with major upside this season. Terrell Owens won’t be a superstar in Buffalo, but he doesn’t have to be. He finally allows Lee Evans to return to a role that he thrived in during the Eric Moulds days — as a top-notch WR2. The two-headed monster, combined with talent at RB and a strengthening defense means that Trent Edwards has nowhere to go but up this season.
Again, anyone can identify a Star-Belly Sneetch. Who are your Plain-Belly Sneetches that are worth a look?