Reason: In 2009, Palmer rarely threw deep, passed for 300 yards just once and posted 21 TD passes because he threw a fluky five of them in one game. Perhaps he was hesitant, coming off an elbow injury that nearly required (and, who knows, may still require) Tommy John surgery. He's pretty risky, but he has a bye week that fits with my starter's and the upside to make him a worthwhile gamble. Antonio Bryant and Jermaine Gresham upgrade his weapons. Cincy appears to be shifting back to a balanced attack with a touch of explosiveness. Palmer has had a year and a half to build up his arm - and confidence.
Standards Set: 3,600 passing yards, 24 TD passes, 15 INTs
Reason: Glad I waited. Winslow's knee procedure notwithstanding, I knew acceptable tight ends would be gone for my Round 10. Winslow - who has played 16 games three of the last four seasons - offered the best leg-up for PPR tight ends of the available crop. Josh Freeman will rely on the position often, even with their incoming wideout class. From Week 9 on last season, Winslow caught at least four passes in each game - Freeman's tenure under center. Antonio Bryant's departure means Winslow tops the pecking order.
Standards Set: Minimum 75 receptions, 750 yards and five touchdowns, but he's capable of much more.
Reason: Portis, 29, is just one season removed from a campaign of 1,487 rushing yards, nine touchdowns and 4.3 yards per carry. No other available RB had those credentials - certainly not Laurence Maroney, whose internal competition for touches is tougher than what Portis has to face. Also, Portis is reunited with head coach Mike Shanahan, who utilized Portis brilliantly in Denver. The Redskins may even have a passing game, thanks to the arrival of QB Donovan McNabb. In short, the stage is set for a Portis revival. I believe Larry Johnson and Willie Parker will be riding the pine, if they even make the team.
Standards Set: It isn't lost on me that Portis has more than 2,100 career carries and is an injury risk. Still, I think the veteran has one more quality fantasy season in him, just like Jamal Lewis in 2007 or LaDainian Tomlinson in 2008. That means about 1,500 yards from scrimmage and 10 touchdowns. You can call me optimistic, but these are the numbers Portis posts when he is healthy.
Reason: Floyd finally showed signs of putting things together last season, setting career highs in receptions (45) and receiving yards (776). While I'm not that intrigued by a 28-year-old receiver finally having a breakout year, I do think the situation in San Diego could bode well for Floyd. Firstly, wide receiver Vincent Jackson is suspended for the first three games of the year, making Floyd the top wide receiver to start. Secondly, Jackson could look to be a holdout, and the possibility of the Chargers trading him could give Floyd the No. 1 job for the rest of the year. Thirdly, Floyd is entering a contract year. If he is unable to put together a big year this season, then he likely will never get the opportunity to cash in on a decent contract.
Others Considered: None
Standards Set: I think Floyd should grab about 65 passes for 900 yards with five touchdowns. However, I'm expecting more if he ends up being the No. 1 wide receiver for the bulk of the season.
Reason: Maroney, like my Steve Slaton pick, was a bit higher than I usually take them. Running backs are thin at this point, and I need to reach for potential. Entering a contract year, Maroney is in a make-or-break season. I've never been a fan of this career underachiever, but he is a very physically gifted talent and on a prolific offense. It's worth the dice roll.
Standards Set: He will post at least 700 yards and six touchdowns in a timeshare; but he could double that production if he stays healthy and contributes like he is capable of.
Reason: I realize that Hightower is the second option in the backfield in Arizona, but a wealth of factors could lead to him becoming a valued commodity as the season wears on. First, Hightower's competition, Beanie Wells, is not the ideal picture of health. Second, Arizona is a different team without Kurt Warner behind center; they will be forced to run more to protect Matt Leinart. Lastly, the Cards cannot ignore Hightower's production from last year - 63 catches and eight TDs. He should be the team's third-down back and goal line option, too.
Standards Set: Wells is not the pass-catching type, so I expect Hightower to pick up the slack here again, with at least 50 grabs and 900-plus total yards.
Reason: My team needed a third wide receiver. It seemed wiser to go with a potential breakout player than an older established receiver who was not a big producer and lacked upside value. With the addition of offensive coordinator Mike Martz, who has established great passing offenses before, second-year wide receiver Knox has the potential for a breakout season. In 2009, his rookie season, he did a good job, catching 45 passes for 527 yards and five touchdowns. He has a lot of potential and Martz has a way of developing young receivers into stars, so this is a calculated gamble. If this fails, Knox will be dropped a few weeks into the 2010 season in favor of someone else.
Standards Set: This is a gamble pick due to his upside in a system run by Martz. I expect at a minimum he will catch 50-plus passes for 700-plus yards and five to seven touchdown receptions.
Reason: I know that Daniels is coming off an anterior cruciate ligament tear, but he has said that he expects to be ready for the start of regular season, so I see this as a good risk-reward choice at this stage. Even in an injury-shorten season, he was able to catch a career-high five touchdowns despite missing eight games. The offense he plays in was also a plus in the decision.
Standards Set: I would hope for 55 catches, 700 yards and at least five touchdowns if he were able to stay healthy.
Reason: The rookie Tate missed some time in the OTAs with a hamstring injury, but he returned for a few practices and was very impressive. I know they expect Steve Slaton (neck) to return to his 2008 form, but that might not be the case. I think the Texans are going to make every effort to keep Slaton healthy, and they'll do that by utilizing a back that can handle the heavy work. Either Tate or Foster could end up being that guy, and who knows, one of them could end up paying off big.
Standards Set: If Tate can get passed the hamstring, he can have a solid rookie season. I expect 115 carries for 510 yards with six touchdowns, and 30 receptions for 220 yards with three touchdowns in the passing game.
Reason: I went into this round with the mindset of drafting either a running back or wide receiver, and Mason was the best of the lot remaining. Even though he proved he could still be a solid player at age 35 with 73 receptions, Mason's numbers will almost certainly diminish due to the added presence of Anquan Boldin and Donte' Stallworth. Then again, receivers this productive and consistent weren't exactly a dime a dozen this late in the draft.
Standards Set: As a result of the Ravens' added offensive firepower, Mason won't reach 1,000 yards this year (barring injuries to other players). If he ends up with 55 catches for 700 yards and five touchdowns, consider that to be a good season given the circumstances.
Reason: LT scored 12 touchdowns for the San Diego Chargers in a down year last season. The Jets ran more than any team in the league in 2009. I'm not sure I believe the hype surrounding Shonn Greene. I mean, I like the guy, but he's largely untested, especially in pass protection. Most people believe Tomlinson is completely done; I won't go that far, but he is close. Here's to hoping he can squeeze out one final productive year from his high-mileage legs.
Standards Set: Best-case scenario: LT combines for 1,600 offensive yards and scores 12-plus total times. Realistic scenario: 600 rushing yards, 300 receiving yards, seven to eight rushing TDs and two receiving scores. I expect at least 30 receptions.
Reason: Tim Heaney snagged Kellen Winslow at the beginning of the round; I had been hoping he'd fall back to me. I'll be happy to settle for Cooley, though. The eight-year vet appears fully recovered from his '09 ankle injury. This offense makes good use of the tight end, and they've been lining up Cooley out wide in some packages. Fred Davis will be a factor, but of the remaining tight ends, I'm willing to bet on 800 yards and five or six touchdowns from Cooley, especially with a more competent quarterback behind center this year.
Others Considered: None
Standards Set: Bottom line expectations: 60 receptions, 700 yards, five touchdowns.
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