Last year, after my sleepers and busts article was posted, I wrote up a much shorter list of players I was all-in or all-out on. Some of them worked (loved Greg Jennings and hated all the Bengals) and some didn’t (I loved Vince Young and hated Matt Schaub). If you’re expecting Tim Tebow to be among my loves, he’s not. He was in my sleepers and I do like him, but the Broncos seem intent on wasting him for much of 2011 so I can’t love him this season. So let’s get into it.
I LOVE Matthew Stafford. I know he has been one of the most fragile players in football, but I’ve watched the Lions’ preseason games and he looks to have taken his play to a new level. He has a ton of weapons, and has matured to take control of the offense. If he can stay healthy, he has top-10 fantasy QB potential.
I HATE Michael Vick. Ridiculously going in the first round of most drafts, for a guy likely to play 12 weeks and might be off and on even when he’s in there depending on how good the opponent’s gameplan is against him.
I LOVE Mario Manningham. I don’t think the gap between him and Hakeem Nicks will be as big as drafts would indicate. Perhaps Nicks is a top-10 WR and Manningham could very well be in the top-15.
I HATE all the rookies. What else is new? Doesn’t seem to be a single one in position to be valuable, compared to their average draft position right now.
I LOVE Fred Jackson for the value he is. He might not get more than 1,000 rushing yards and 8 TDs but he is being drafted after many platoon member runners and he is the clear #1 in Buffalo. Granted, it’s Buffalo, but there are so few clear-cut workhorse backs, he’s a bargain.
I HATE Frank Gore for what it costs to get his 12 games of elite production. He’s great when he’s in there, and if I could get him for 75% the cost of an elite runner, I would, because I’ll get 75% of the season from him, but he’s going in the second round, so I will never own him and never trade what it would take to get him.
I LOVE goal line vultures. Willis McGehee, Mike Tolbert, Brandon Jacobs, Montario Hardesty… all of them could get double-digit touchdowns.
I HATE Felix Jones. I’m done waiting for this breakout season people say is coming. He’s being drafted like its already happened.
I LOVE Tashard Choice. I was impressed with the chances he got last year, and he seems more apt to hold the every-down duties in Dallas.
I HATE Michael Turner. They didn’t give up a ton of draft picks to get Julio Jones for his blocking skills. They will stretch the field.
I LOVE Matt Ryan. See above.
I HATE Vincent Jackson. He’s a headcase. He doesn’t stay on the field. His QB loves to spread the ball around. He’s a useful #2 WR on your fantasy team, but you have to pay for a #1 WR and you will be disappointed.
So there you go. These are guys I’m reaching for, or letting fall in most mocks. The reasons for some are better than others. Some are simple gut calls. Take them for what they are.