Welcome to another year of fantasy football. Drafts are finishing up around the country and the NFL season is slated to kickoff Thursday September 9th with the defending Super Bowl champions the New Orleans Saints taking on Brett Favre and the Minnesota Vikings. After that the real fun begins with football on all day Sunday and a double header for Monday Night.
And the start to another fantasy football season means the start to my Keepers and Sleepers articles that are written every week to help you decide who to start and who to sit. Along with this advice you can now follow me on twitter @babybluemonkey for in game updates. If that’s not enough I went out and created my very own fantasy football website at www.babybluemonkey.com. I am a member in good standing for the Fantasy Sports Writers Association (FSWA) and also write tons of other articles at Helium and Associated Content.
But enough about me, we are here for football and let’s get down to it. Every week I will break down 5 keepers and 5 sleepers for both running backs (RBs) and wide receivers (WRs). For definition purposes a keeper is a guy you should be playing but might be having reservations about. A sleeper is a guy you have on the bench or on the waiver wire that you need to get into your active lineup for that week. So without further ado I give you the 2010 week 1 fantasy football RB keepers and sleepers:
1) Beanie Wells – I’ve seen Beanie steadily slip in the drafts for some unknown reason, from 2nd round to early 4th round. Wells is the clear cut RB1 and he faces a St. Louis defense that may be better but is still largely untested. Oh yeah and some guy named Kurt Warner hung up his cleats and left a couple of idiots QB’ing one of the better offenses on the West Coast. Couple that with the Anquan Boldin departure and you’ve now got a team that is going to be a lot more focused on the run. Sure Tim Hightower will get some touches and steal some goal line carries but Beanie Wells is the man in Arizona. If you have him make sure he is in your starting lineup this week.
2) Ryan Mathews – This guy is guaranteed to get a decent amount of touches because he steps in as the undisputed RB1 on one of the league’s most potent offenses. There may be some hesitation in starting Ryan Mathews despite being taken in the first 3 round of every draft I’ve seen. He is a rookie. But that shouldn’t keep him from an over 1000 yard season. He’s shown good stuff in the preseason and has been working on his reception game. Look for big numbers against a subpar Kansas City defense.
3) Ray Rice – I’ve seen Rice slip as far as ninth overall and I can’t understand the drop. I’ve seen MJD go second and Drew Brees go first. But I never saw Rice go earlier than third. This guy has been stronger over the offseason, reportedly benching 405 and squatting over 500lbs. The Ravens are dedicated to the run despite the addition of Boldin. He is an obvious starter but the lack of respect has baffled me. The Ravens play the Jets. Don’t get cute and sit Rice because you think the Jets are the best defense. With all the hype they got last year they weren’t even the league’s best defense. Aside from that fact Rice will produce some effective numbers as Flacco attacks from the air. I’m not a believer in the J-E-T-S and I like Rice in this matchup.
4) Jerome Harrison – Speaking of lack of respect. Harrison has been steadily falling in the draft the last two months. You can now get this electric RB1 consistently in the 6-7th round or later. Montario Hardesty is a nice addition but the Browns will still lean heavily on this young back. With a battle of patheticness between Cleveland and Tampa Bay look for both RB1s to put up good numbers. It wouldn’t shock me to see 2-3 TDs and around 100 yards for Harrison.
5) Cedric Benson – During my FSWA draft I grabbed Benson with the fourth round pick. Granted it was a PPR league but the other writers in the draft avoided him like he was a leper. I’m not the biggest Benson fan but I do see value in this pick, especially against a ragtag New England defense. Palmer should draw some attention with his two stud receivers and that should leave plenty of holes for Benson to attack. Another obvious start so make sure he’s in your lineup.
1) Arian Foster – This guy started garnering attention BEFORE Ben Tate suffered a season ending injury. Last year Foster gained decent yardage and three touchdowns in the last few games of the season. Fast forward to the Ben Tate injury. Immediately after that he started out as an 11th round sneaky pick. A few weeks later he was consistently being taken before Michael Bush and other certain RB1s. Just recently I saw someone snag him in the third round. And you know what. That’s about accurate; this guy will explode and thrive with Schaub opening up lanes by constantly threating with the aerial attack. Foster just blew up in for 110 yards and a TD against a decent Dallas D during the latest preseason tilt.
2) Jahvid Best -The most dynamic and explosive player on Detroit. That might seem like a no-brainer but Detroit is quickly becoming a team full of better than average players. Calvin Johnson, Matthew Stafford, Kevin Smith, and others are going to help this team post an 8-8 record. You heard it here first. Jahvid Best will not disappoint and any reservations to sit him because he’s on Detroit will end after this game against a decent Chicago defense.
3) C.J. Spiller – Lead back by attrition. That shouldn’t have any effect on your decision to start Spiller. Here’s a newsflash… Buffalo is not going to be Detroit the last two years. Sure the team is weak in several areas but there is a resemblance of a passing game in Buffalo and that will allow Spiller to produce decent numbers relative to his draft selection. Miami and Buffalo is always a rivalry game (I know both my parents are from Buffalo) and look for Spiller to shine. A great flex option or RB2 option. Start him with confidence… at least as long as both Lynch AND Jackson are on the bench.
4) Michael Bush – I’ve been drafting this guy repeatedly (just check my drafts at www.babybluemonkey.com) and you’ll see. Apparently he’s been catching on because I used to get him after the tenth round now I have to jump on him in the sixth. Bluntly put, McFadden is of no threat to Bush’s role as RB1. I’m fully aware they play a strong Tennessee defense this week. Oakland is the most improved team from last year to this and it will show in this game. They may not win but Chris Johnson will not be the only 100 yard rusher in this game. Bush is a starter (RB2) the entire season. Trade for him now if you can snag him.
5) Cadillac Williams – Buried in the draft and sometimes not even drafted, this guy gets no respect. Never mind his miraculous return to action following double knee replacement. Forget that Derrick Ward is a major disappointment that he will most likely be cut before the season starts. The bottom line is if you need a RB2 or a decent flex option look no further than Williams and you might even find him on the waiver wire. Oh yeah did I mention they were playing the Cleveland Browns?
There you have it. The first edition of Keepers and Sleepers 2010 for running backs is in the books. Be sure to read the wide receiver edition and check back weekly. Bookmark, delicious, Facebook, and other methods of thanking me for this article are appreciated. Check www.babybluemonkey.com for up-to-date information on this year’s fantasy football season. @babybluemonkey will give you in game tweets on twitter. Thanks for reading this one guy’s opinion in the vast sea known as the World Wide Web. Good luck on your season and feel free to email me with questions on my bio page.