Gregg Rosenthal

The Morning After

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The Morning Of

Thursday, September 10, 2009

In lieu of notes for our Goal Line Stand rankings this week, I thought it's a good time to take one last look back at what happened in the preseason Morning After style, and try to predict how it will affect the season ahead. Giddy up.

Players to be surprisingly optimistic about

1. Matt Hasselbeck: There were a lot of reasons not to like Hasselbeck heading into camp. Here's a few: 34 years old, back injury, questionable receiving corps, back injury, new run-first offensive attack without Mike Holmgren, back injury.

But Hasselbeck has looked impressive in training camp and appears fully healthy. In a sea of mediocre QB2 options, Hasselbeck looks inviting when he gets a tasty NFC West matchup like this week against the Rams. At least until his back flares up.

2. Leon Washington. The kid is hitting his prime, the Jets offensive line is strong, and I actually believe Rex Ryan when he says Leon will touch the ball more this year. Mark Sanchez dumping off to Washington may be the best play the Jets have.

3. Marion Barber: He evolved into the de facto guy that fell too far and ended up on my team. (Chad Johnson was this guy all summer – yes! – but his average draft position started to catch up with our rankings.

Barber still the best player on a very good offense that will catch passes and score touchdowns. There isn't that much of a difference between him and Maurice Jones-Drew. (Whom I also have.)

4. James Davis: So many times, we overrate players because they have a great opportunity for touches, but they prove not to be very good football players. (Eric Shelton, anyone?) Davis was only a sixth-round pick, but it was clear from the day he was drafted that he had the chance to make a big impact right away. He's taking advantage.

5. Patrick Crayton: A Rotoworld favorite from a few years back, he's emerged over Miles Austin. It wouldn't remotely surprise us if he puts up similar WR3 numbers to Roy Williams at a fraction of the practice.

6. Todd Heap and Jermichael Finley: There are tight end sleepers by the bushel this year. Finley is a dark horse to lead the Packers in receiving touchdowns, while Heap is showing some rejuvenation potential. An injury seems inevitable, but the man is only 29. He should be a factor until he gets hurt.

Editor's Note: For projections for every player listed above, check out Rotoworld's Season pass package. The Rotoworld Oracle takes your scoring system and tells you who to start. Plus you get access to countless other features including tons of stat tools, columns, Top-200 rankings for trades, early weekly rankings, Evan Silva's running back report, Monday morning recaps, IDP help, and picks of the week.

Nothing to see here, folks
Or: Players who got unnecessarily caught in the preseason weeds, but escaped.

1. Dwayne Bowe: Yeah, about that third team designation … just kidding!

2. Mark Bradley: See above. Bradley still might not be a huge fantasy factor, but he has the same relatively high ceiling for a flier pick that we thought he was to start camp. He's worth a pickup in most 12-team leagues.

3. Brandon Marshall: His totally useless offseason would be more surprising if this didn't happen twice before in his career. After all the drama, though, it would be surprising if he's not playing starter-worthy snaps in Week 1. It would be even more surprising if Marshall didn't produce. Maybe he won't catch 100 passes for the third straight year, but he'll come close enough.

4. Jonathan Stewart was back fully practicing Wednesday after resting for nearly a month with a sore Achilles. The lack of injury information in Carolina was part of the problem here; this was apparently the plan all along. The Carolina schedule gets much tougher this season, but Stewart has the same explosive talent he did last year.

(For everyone hammering me for ranking DeAngelo Williams so low: we'll see. He's still ranked as a top-15 player, and his schedule is infinitely harder and Stewart remains the most talented backup in football. The bet here is that Williams is closer to the player he was for the first half of last season.)

5. Chris "Beanie" Wells is still the most talented back in the Arizona backfield, and we expect him to be the most valuable in fantasy leagues starting Sunday.

6. Antonio Bryant and Donnie Avery shook off preseason surgeries and will be fully ready for Week 1. Nate Washington will be ready soon enough.

7. The Baltimore passing attack should be better than people think, and they have no one to reliably catch the ball except Derrick Mason. In PPR leagues, he should be a safe weekly play, same as he ever was.

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Gregg Rosenthal has directed Rotoworld's football content since 2003. He co-hosts the NBC Fantasy Fix and covers the NFL for and Catch him on Twitter.
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