Who Not to Keep
At the beginning of each season the most important thing any fantasy football owner can do is research. Owners who put in the time early and often tend to put together better teams. Much like running an NFL franchise, your fantasy franchise is more than just a 4 month commitment. If your plan this season is to dominate the league, then now is the time to get started.
In some leagues owners are allowed to carry over players from the previous season, while in other leagues owners draft an entirely new team each season. In either case, it is important to rank the players and base your decisions on these rankings. Don't let your personal feelings toward a player or team cloud your judgment. Just because a guy plays for your favorite team doesn't mean he is worthy of being a first round selection.
Ranking players is not a simple task. There are many factors to take into consideration. For example, when ranking running backs it is important to know who was on the offensive line last season and who will be there this year. If one or more of the linemen from last season has moved on, then the running back may not have the same type of season this year. Obviously the opposite could be true too, but the important thing to note is the change in the offensive line. In addition to roster changes, it is important to take note of coaching changes, injuries and age. A change in any or all of these can result in a player becoming a dud or a stud overnight.
If you're in a league which allows owners to carry over players from year to year, then it is likely the preseason rankings play a huge roll in your decision on who to keep or cut. To help you with the rankings we've put together a list of players that you may want to think twice about keeping. Keep in mind we can't see any further into the future than you, so it's possible these players could still have a good season. However, based on roster changes, coaching changes, age, injuries, etc. we believe these players won't perform as well as many hope.
I like the saying 'One year does not a career make.' This saying couldn't be further from the truth for Matt Cassel. Many people have hopped on the bandwagon and want to believe Cassel is the next Tom Brady. After all he stepped into Brady's shoes and nearly led the Patriots to the post season last year, along the way completing 327 passes for 3,693 yards with 21 touchdowns and 11 interceptions. In all, those are not bad numbers and if he was returning to the Patriots I'd say keeping Cassel would be a possibility. However, Cassel was traded to Kansas City and as a member of the rebuilding Chiefs I just don't see numbers like this for Cassel in 2009.
Some people may be thinking that because the Titans went 14-2 last season Kerry Collins should be a keeper. However, if you look at his numbers, there is no way anyone would want to keep Collins. Last year he completed 242 passes for 2,676 yards with 12 touchdowns and 7 interceptions. You can draft a quarterback in the final few rounds who will post numbers like these. If you had penciled in Collins as a keeper, then take out the eraser and save yourself a headache.
When I start to put a keeper list together one of the first criteria I look at is coaching and roster changes. Let's face it, for the most part it doesn't matter if a player is in Denver or Chicago. Sure weather conditions can make a difference, but for the most part the coaching staff and roster are the difference makers. In the case of Jay Cutler his trade to Chicago is a major drawback. For starters, the Bears are thought of as a run first offense. Then there's the lack of a marquee wide receiver on the roster. In fact if you're not a Bears fan, I challenge you to name a receiver other than Devin Hester. This season Cutler will need to learn the playbook and establish a relationship with one of the receivers. Until this happens, his numbers will not warrant losing a position in the draft to keep him.
Johnson is one of those guys owners struggle with year after year. He has the potential to be a top 5 running back; on the flip side, he could wind up on the IR and your season could be lost. Back in 2005 and 2006 LJ carried the ball more than 750 times for over 3,500 yards and 37 touchdowns. For many players those are career numbers and Johnson did it in just 2 seasons. Since that time LJ has found himself spending almost as much time off the field as he has on the field. He has missed 12 games and accumulated just 351 carries for 1,433 yards and 8 touchdowns in the last 2 years. I said it back in 2007 and I'm going to say it here again: I think the '05 and '06 seasons gave Johnson a beating from which he will never recover.
New head coach Rex Ryan said the Jets will run the ball more this season. Fantasy owners with an opportunity to keep Jones have to be thinking this is a good thing. Well I'm here to tell you to think again. First, Jones will be 31 at the start of this season. While last year at age 30 Jones did have the second most single season yards in his career; I have a hard time believing we'll see that again this season. In addition, Jones' front loaded contract has been the centerpiece of controversy this off-season. Jones feels that he should be paid similar to the $13.1 million he received over the past two seasons, even though he agreed to take just $900k this year in order to be paid so handsomely the last two seasons. Couple this dispute with the return of Leon Washington and it appears Jones' numbers are destined to decline this season.