Fantasy impact of 2009 draft class

RB Scott goes to Bengals

Abeline Christian’s Bernard Scott had the most checkered past of any player in the 2009 draft class.

Of course, he ended up with the Cincinnati Bengals.

Scott has had off-field problems ever since high school and has been with four different collegiate institutions due to academic and behavioral issues. He will also go down in history as one of the most productive runners in college football.

It’s hard to see Scott making much of an impact as a rookie, though, and he won’t push Cedric Benson for the top spot on the depth chart.

As for Benson, his value rises after a weekend that saw the Bengals improve their offensive line without adding a true impact runner to compete for the starting role.

Browns draft RB Davis in Round 6

Despite the fact that Jamal Lewis will be 30 when next season starts, the Browns still waited until the 195th overall selection to take a running back, Clemson’s James Davis.

While Davis showed some flashes of potential at the collegiate level, he has little chance to unseat Lewis atop the depth chart. In fact, Lewis’ value actually rose this weekend with the addition of C Alex Mack out of California.

With coach Eric Mangini at the helm and an improved offensive line in front of him, can Lewis become this season’s Thomas Jones?

RB Brown lands with Giants

Despite concerns about his durability, the Giants still took a chance on North Carolina State’s Andre Brown in the fourth round.

Brown has the skills to make some noise at the NFL level, but he’ll be hard pressed to do much as a rookie with Brandon Jacobs locked into the top spot on the depth chart.

He’ll need to push Ahmad Bradshaw and Danny Ware in training camp to have any draft value in seasonal fantasy leagues.

49ers draft RB Coffee

The Niners want to run the ball more often under coordinator Jimmy Raye, so it’s no surprise that they took a running back. A physical back, Glen Coffee could turn into a viable handcuff for fantasy owners who land Frank Gore.

This is a situation to watch, though, as more and more teams are now utilizing backfield committees to keep their runners fresh over what is a long and punishing season.

If Coffee impresses the coaching staff, he could steal some looks from Gore in short-yardage and goal-line situations.

Jets trade up for RB Greene

After trading two picks and three players to move up and draft their quarterback of the future, Mark Sanchez, the Jets dealt three picks to move up and land Iowa’s Shonn Greene.

While his work ethic has been questioned, Greene should be a perfect fit for the Jets’ run-based offense. A real bruiser at close to 230 pounds, Greene could steal some carries from Thomas Jones in short-yardage and red-zone situations as a rookie.

With Leon Washington expected to see more time out of the backfield, however, it’s hard to project Greene as more than a late-round pick in seasonal leagues.

That is, of course, if Jones doesn’t hold out over contractual issues.

Eagles draft RB McCoy

With Brian Westbrook entering the downside of his career, the Eagles took Pittsburgh’s LeSean McCoy as his heir apparent.

A versatile back with a similar skill set to Westbrook, McCoy should open next season second on the depth chart. That would make him a valuable fantasy handcuff for Westbrook, who has had his share of injuries in his career.

However, I don’t see McCoy putting a huge dent into Westbrook’s production or value in 2009. He’ll be worth a middle- to late-round selection in seasonal formats with more value in keeper and dynasty leagues.

Dolphins draft QB White

Pat White, a collegiate quarterback, was considered one of the best pure athletes in the 2009 class. In fact, many teams saw him as more of a wide receiver at the NFL level.

However, Dolphins GM GM Jeff Ireland told the South Florida Sun-Sentinel that White was drafted to compete with Chad Pennington and Chad Henne as the team’s quarterback of the future.

While that could factor into keeper and dynasty leagues, White will likely be used as a Kordell Stewart-type player in his rookie season. A perfect fit for the team’s now famous Wildcat formation, White will be used to give opposing defenses different looks under center.

In fantasy circles, though, it’s hard to see White having much value in 2009.

Browns draft Robiskie in Round 2

The Browns failed to trade Braylon Edwards this weekend, but they still took Ohio State’s Brian Robiskie with their second pick in the draft.

The most polished wideout in the 2009 class, Robiskie has to be considered the favorite to start opposite Edwards as a rookie. However, it’s hard to envision a scenario where the former Buckeye will make a strong fantasy impact right away.

At best, he’ll be worth a late-round flier in larger seasonal formats.

Wells to compete with Hightower

The NFC champion Cardinals (still sounds strange, huh?) took Ohio State’s Chris Wells with their first round selection, setting up an interesting depth chart battle this summer.

I see Wells, projected as the second-best running back in the class by many scouts, to emerge atop the team’s depth chart as a rookie. That would leave Hightower, who has lost 15 pounds this offseason, to serve as third-down back for coach Ken Whisenhunt.

The back that emerges as the goal-line choice will ultimately see a spike in fantasy value, but right now I see Wells as the better option in seasonal and keeper leagues.

Of course, the best news coming out of Arizona (at least in fantasy land) is that Anquan Boldin wasn’t traded this weekend.

Titans draft Rutgers WR Britt

The addition of Kenny Britt could put a monkey wrench into the Titans depth chart at wide receiver.

Coach Jeff Fisher told the Nashville Tennessean that he wants to get Britt onto the field as soon as possible, so there’s a chance that he could push Justin Gage for a starting role.

With Nate Washington also in the mix, however, it could be difficult for Britt to make a significant fantasy impact in what will remain a mostly run-based offense.

He’s a player to watch in the preseason, but Britt won’t have more than late-round value in seasonal formats.

WR Nicks goes to Giants

The New York Giants failed to make a trade for Braylon Edwards and instead took North Carolina’s Hakeem Nicks with the 29th overall selection.

Hicks, a split end, will compete with Domenik Hixon and Mario Manningham for the right to start in Plaxico Burress’ former spot, but the rookie is likely to begin next season as a reserve.

In fact, he’ll need to have a sparkling training camp and preseason to be worth more than a late-round flier in seasonal formats. Overall, I don’t see Nicks making a significant fantasy impact at the start of his rookie season.

Without a true No. 1 wide receiver on the roster, the value of Eli Manning will take a significant hit.

Colts add Brown to backfield mix

The top rusher in Division-I last season, Donald Brown will open next season as a valuable fantasy handcuff for Joseph Addai.

Coach Jim Caldwell told the Tribune-Star that Addai will remain the team’s No. 1 back, but owners should expect a committee situation to evolve. Addai, a huge disappointment last season, has been prone to injuries at the NFL level and seems better served in a shared situation.

Addai should receive more carries, but even a 60-40 split hurts his value in both seasonal and keeper leagues. He’s no more than a No. 2 back in fantasy circles.

As for Brown, he’ll be worth a middle- to late-round selection.

Vikings draft Florida WR Harvin

Despite his off-field issues, Percy Harvin still landed in the first round and will become a serious playmaker for the Minnesota Vikings.

Compared to Reggie Bush for his immense speed and skills as a runner and receiver, I expect Harvin to compete with Sidney Rice for the second spot on the depth chart behind Bernard Berrian.

Because of his immense potential and explosiveness, Harvin will warrant a late-round flier in most fantasy drafts.

TE Pettigrew goes to the Lions

The most well-rounded tight end in the 2009 class, Brandon Pettigrew should step right in and start for the Lions.

An effective pass catcher and blocker, he’ll be a valuable option in the offense. The real question about the Oklahoma State product is whether or not he’ll be a better NFL player than a fantasy player.

Overall, he should be seen as little more than a fantasy reserve in 2009.

Eagles draft WR Maclin at No. 19

Despite having DeSean Jackson, Kevin Curtis, Reggie Brown and Jason Avant on the roster, the Eagles still took Missouri’s Jeremy Maclin in the first round.

A curious pick (but one that will make Donovan McNabb smile), Maclin has immense speed and can stretch defenses in the vertical pass attack. He’ll need time to adapt to the NFL level and likely won’t make an immediate fantasy impact, but Maclin is certainly a player to watch.

At worst, he gives McNabb another weapon in an offense that loves to throw under coach Andy Reid.

Buccaneers trade up for QB Freeman

Jon Gruden might not be the coach anymore, but the Bucs are still stockpiling quarterbacks.

The team moved up in the first round to draft Kansas State’s Josh Freeman, who joins Luke McCown, Byron Leftwich, Brian Griese and Josh Johnson on a crowded quarterback depth chart.

Freeman is seen as the team’s long-term franchise quarterback, but coach Raheem Morris will allow the rookie a chance to compete with McCown and Leftwich for the top spot in 2009.

I still see McCown and Leftwich as the front runners, however, so Freeman’s value will be higher in keeper and dynasty leagues than in seasonal formats.

Moreno lands in Denver at No. 12

Looking for this season’s top fantasy rookie? Well, look no further than Knowshon Moreno.

The most talented running back in the 2009 class, I expect Moreno to step right in and become the starter for coach Josh McDaniels.

The Broncos did add veterans Correll Buckhalter, LaMont Jordan and J.J. Arrington in the offseason, but none of that trio has nearly the same talent as Moreno.

While it’s true that McDaniels used backfield committees for much of his time in New England, he never had a player like Moreno. What’s more, McDaniels told the Denver Post that he feels Moreno can be a three-down back at the NFL level.

In a best-case scenario, I see Moreno as a No. 2 fantasy runner in 2009. But because of the depth the Broncos have at the position, the Georgia product is more likely to be seen a viable flex starter in most drafts.

He’s also a tremendous option in keeper and dynasty leagues.

Niners steal WR Crabtree at No. 10

The 49ers had to be smiling when the Raiders took Darius Heyward-Bey, not Michael Crabtree, with the seventh pick.

The Texas Tech product was hailed as the top wideout in the draft, and he’ll now have a chance to start as a rookie under coach Mike Singletary.

Compared to Anquan Boldin by GM Scot McCloughan, Crabtree will compete with Josh Morgan and Brandon Jones for the top two spots on the depth chart.

The Niners will be a run-first team under new coordinator Jimmy Raye, however, so fantasy owners need to temper their expectations for Crabtree in 2009. Still, he’ll be worth a middle- to late-round pick in seasonal fantasy drafts.

Crabtree’s presence also makes Isaac Bruce even less of an option.

Jaguars draft Virginia OT Monroe

Injuries leveled the Jaguars’ offensive line last season, so it was no surprise to see the team land OT Eugene Monroe in Round 1. He’s a great pass blocker, which is great news for the value of David Garrard.

Monroe is also a talented run blocker, which will only make Maurice Jones-Drew more attractive in fantasy drafts.

The Jags also landed Arizona OT Eben Britton in Round 2, giving the team two book end tackles.

Raiders draft WR Heyward-Bey

In a move that left most Raider fans and fantasy leaguers scratching their heads, the Silver & Black took Darius Heyward-Bey ahead of Texas Tech’s Michael Crabtree with the No. 7 overall selection.

Heyward-Bey’s speed is what made him so attractive to owner Al Davis, who could envision the rookie as the second coming of Cliff Branch.

Of course, Heyward-Bey could turn into the second coming off James Jett, too.

With no clear-cut No. 1 wide receiver on the roster, Heyward-Bey will warrant late-round consideration in seasonal fantasy drafts. Just don’t expect him to do much in what remains a questionable Raiders pass attack.

Bengals improve O-line with rookie Smith

With Carson Palmer back under center, the Bengals made improving their offensive line a priority.

That was evident in the selection of Alabama OT Andre Smith, who should move into the starting lineup on the right side as a rookie. While there are some question marks about Smith, he was a need pick and should help protect Palmer.

The Bengals also drafted Arkansas C Jonathan Luigs, who will be looked on to make an immediate impact as well.

Jets trade up, draft QB Sanchez

USC’s Mark Sanchez was the hottest name in the 2009 class in the days before the draft, so it’s no surprise that the Jets traded two draft picks and three players to move up and select him.

While he came out as an underclassman and started a mere 16 games at the collegiate level, Sanchez could still open next season as the Jets’ No. 1 quarterback. In fact, coach Rex Ryan told the New York Post that Sanchez will in fact compete for the top spot with Kellen Clemens.

Even in a best-case scenario, however, I still don’t see Sanchez as a draftable player in seasonal fantasy leagues.

The Men in Green will run the ball a ton, and their lack of playmakers at wide receiver leaves Sanchez with few options in the pass attack.

Sanchez has more value in keeper and dynasty leagues.

Rams draft OT Smith

Sure, offensive linemen aren’t drafted in fantasy football, but that doesn’t make them any less important to your team’s success.

The addition of Baylor OT Jason Smith is a real positive for the value of Steven Jackson. The Rams want to run the ball and feature Jackson in their backfield, and Smith’s presence will be huge in making the ground attack effective.

Remember, the Rams also added C Jason Brown and FB Mike Karney this offseason. With Smith now in the mix, Jackson’s blocking should be better than it’s been in several seasons.

He’s a surefire first-round pick in drafts.

Lions draft Stafford with top pick

Will Matthew Stafford be the next Matt Ryan…or the next Joey Harrington?

Well, fantasy owners likely won’t have a chance to find out next season. While Lions coach Jim Schwartz said he will keep an open mind in the battle for the top spot on the depth chart, chances are that Daunte Culpepper will be under center in Week 1.

That won’t allow Stafford much of a chance to make an impact in fantasy circles.

Furthermore, it’s hard to envision a scenario where he comes out and has any value as a rookie. Ryan and Joe Flacco were both fifth-year seniors coming out of college, while Stafford, an underclassman, will need more time to develop at the NFL level.

Stafford’s value will be limited to keeper and dynasty leagues on fantasy Draft Day.

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