Thursday, September 04, 2008

NFL Preview Part Two: The 35 Most Intriguing Players of 2008

35. Andre Johnson
Can he stay healthy?

34. Jonathan Stewart
33. Jake Delhomme
32. Steve Smith
Delhomme is the classic aging QB coming back from Tommy John elbow surgery; Smith is the classic talented nutjob wideout capable of anything; Stewart is the classic rookie running back with a high ceiling; Carolina is the classic totally unpredictable NFL squad.

31. Troy Smith
30. Joe Flacco
Two Ravens, one an underappreciated Heisman Trophy winner and the other a 2008 first-round pick, battling for the starting quarterback job on an appealing squad looking to rebound from a rough season.

29. Carson Palmer
Little-known fact – Carson played some pretty terrible football in 2007. If he doesn’t get it together this year, the Bengals could be looking at a 4-12 campaign.

28. Larry Johnson
More intriguing for fantasy purposes than game-winning purposes, since everyone knows the Chiefs will have a hard time winning multiple games in 2008.

27. Ted Ginn, Jr.
Ginn caught eight balls the first nine games of ’07, then grabbed twenty-six over the last seven, including seven and a TD in week 17.

26. Adrian Peterson
In 2007 he had six games over 100 yards, including 224 and 296 yard efforts, but also missed two games due to injury and rushed for just 144 yards on 54 carries over the last four games of the season (2.7 ypc).

25. Vince Young
No Madden Curse to worry about this season. You do have to wonder about his receiving corps.

24. Brady Quinn
23. Derek Anderson
The most unexpected star of 2007 is expected to lead his team to the playoffs, while the expected star of the future sits on the sidelines waiting for an opportunity that may never come with this team.

22. Jeremy Shockey
Will he be the missing piece of the puzzle for the Saints and vault their offense to Patriot-like explosiveness? Or will his recovering broken fibula remove him from the A-list of NFL tight ends?

21. Tank Johnson
20. Felix Jones
19. Roy Williams
18. Zach Thomas
17. Adam “Pacman” Jones
You know what you’re getting with most of the Cowboys at this point (good things). With this quintet it’s a little murkier. Each of these players has Pro-Bowl talent but each sports a questionmark next to the star on his helmet.

16. Randy Moss
There is no reason to believe Mr. Moss won’t have another monster season, other than the fact he is a crazy troublemaking headcase with a history of self-destruction.

15. Kevin Smith
14. Matt Forte
13. Michael Turner
Unknown talents starting for bad teams at RB – three of the most critical and unpredictable players in the league. Sky’s the limit for these guys.

12. Chad Ocho Cinco
11. Calvin Johnson
Two receivers whose careers are headed in opposite directions. The hype on Calvin “Megatron” Johnson has become deafening in recent weeks, while Ocho Cinco and his five straight 90+ catch, 1200+ yard, 7+ TD seasons have been forgotten after a loud offseason.

10. Eli Manning
Word out of camp is that little Manning is playing with unprecedented poise and confidence – playing like a Super Bowl Champion Manning. With the defense decimated, the Giants will need to put more points on the board.

9. JaMarcus Russell
8. Darren McFadden
Rise of the silver and black?

7. Ricky Williams
The league’s most unpredictable player.

6. Matt Leinart
5. Kurt Warner
The way Warner finished the ’07 season bodes well for tortured Cardinals fans. The way Warner’s body traditionally breaks down during the season bodes well for Matt Leinart’s fading hopes of starting in the NFL.

4. Tarvaris Jackson
On paper, the Vikings have the best defense in football as well as the most terrifying running game. On paper, they also have the worst starting quarterback. If Tarvaris can merely upgrade his play from “horrific” to “bad”, the Vikes will be a contender.

3. Chad Pennington
2. Brett Favre
1. Aaron Rodgers

The wildest soap opera of the offseason leaves us with Pennington helming the rebuilding Dolphins, Favre captaining a revamped Jets squadron, and Rodgers trying to fill the shoes of the NFL’s most legendary quarterback while taking over a wildly talented posse of up and comers. Important facts to remember here –
1. The Packers could have had Favre. They chose Rodgers. They decided the team would be in better hands with Rodgers rather than Favre.
2. Since 2002, Favre has thrown 116 interceptions – by far the most in the league. 3.5% of his passes over the last six years were picks. Compare this number to Tom Brady and Peyton Manning (2.3% intereception rate) or Jeff Garcia (1.8%), or Pennington (2.9%). The most important of these interceptions was the last pass Favre threw last season, an NFC Championship-losing pick to the Giants.
3. Chad Pennington has the highest career completion percentage in NFL history.
I think all three teams benefited from this merry-go-round, and the biggest winner will be the Green Bay Packers.


Anonymous Tru said...

Love this post and am so excited to see how all these stories play out.

One thing: LJ is not an exciting story. No O-line, no excitement, no chance.

7:00 PM  
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