In the coming months I’m sure you’ll hear a lot about studs, duds and sleepers. Here is a list of players that really don’t fall into any of those categories. These are solid players currently going in the mid rounds that if you’re aware of can allow you to be much more confident in the early rounds.
You can then take advantage of the best players available because you’ll know what to expect in the rounds to come and won’t draft simply based on need. Although these aren’t all big-name players, targeting these guys in the mid-rounds can change your entire draft strategy and the results you see significantly.
1. Cedric Benson – a new tackle and veteran weapons around him. The Bengals have put in new zone and man blocking schemes to accommodate his North-South running style and were pleasantly surprised with his speed on sweeps per John Clayton’s inside the huddle. Seems primed to take advantage of a great opportunity in a resurgent offense and will be the lone featured back. He’s being drafted any where between rounds 4-8, excellent value in the 6th and later.
2. Derrick Ward – although Brandon Jacobs wearing defenses down and the Giants great offensive line had a lot to do with Ward’s success in New York , he did still manage to put up over 1,000 yards as part of a 3-headed monster. The Bucs pretty much cleaned house in the off-season and are looking for a fresh start. I think Ward is clearly the most talented and reliable of the backs in Tampa Bay and I would look for him to outperform his current ADP of 54th overall.
3. LenDale White – is 20 pounds lighter and coming into a contract year. The Titans are probably not going to be as good this year without Albert Haynesworth and Tennessee would like to expand Chris Johnson’s role, but he still scores a lot (22 times in the last two years, 15 times last year). Johnson’s size is an issue and he did get injured in last year’s playoff game. All in all, at 71 overall ADP he is a great value especially in scoring leagues.
4. Rashard Mendenhall – will get a chance on short yardage and goaline opportunities for one of the best franchises around. His shoulder is healed, he has fresh legs and I would expect the Steelers to use him much more especially in the second half of the season when the wheels tend to fall off for fast Willie Parker. Current ADP is 97th overall so keep an eye out for him in rounds 9 and higher.
5. Donovan McNabb – the Eagles really took care of their star this off-season with a new contract, drafting multiple assets on offense and trading for a stud left tackle. Plus, I still don’t think Donovan has forgot about when Andy Reid benched him last year. He could really make a savvy owner’s team in the 6th round where is currently being drafted.
6. Matt Schaub – a low-end no. 1 quarterback being picked in the mid rounds 6-8. He filled in nicely for me last year when Houston played Detroit and Cincinnati back-to-back before getting injured. Has potential to break out with a great surrounding cast. He was 5th in points per game at quarterback per Chris Dowling of footballguys.com, and like Chris says his value comes down to if he can stay healthy.
7. Tony Romo – people will sleep on him because he no longer has T.O and Dallas is expected to shift to a more run oriented offense. However, I read an intriguing comment from Carson Palmer in a radio interview recently about how much Jon Kitna really helped him during his best years so far. Don’t forget he still has one of the best tight end’s and offensive lines in the game. I’d expect him to start a little slower but end much stronger due to the lack of drama without T.O. and extra guidance from Kitna this year to provide solid stats for his current ADP of 59th overall.
8. OchoCinco – hampered by injury and losing his quarterback last year. Most people just don’t like him or are tired of hearing about his antics but the fact is that he should have a much better year in 09′. If he slips past the fourth round be prepared to pull the trigger.
9. Bernard Berrian – now that Favre is officially with the Vikings, his stock should steadily rise. Although Minnesota won’t live and die by Brett’s gunslinger style likes teams in his past, I will still expect him to air it out enough for Berrian to be a great look in the mid rounds 6-8 as a WR3 with potential for solid WR 2 numbers or a solid flex play. I mentioned him in my article titled “The Favre effect” as the biggest beneficiary of the signing as well.
10. Anthony Gonzalez – probably the most overlooked 3rd year receiver this year. The Colts still have a legit no. 1 even without Harrison, a tier 1 tight end in Dallas Clark, not to mention Peyton Manning. Peyton trusted him in clutch situations last year so he’s not going to shy away from giving Gonzo more targets. Currently going in the late 5th which is little high for me but still definitely somebody to keep an eye on.
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