It happens every year.
We go into the fantasy football season thinking we have a really good idea about the production we’re going get from each of our players, then someone takes off like a house on fire. We ride these hot hands all the way to the playoffs, the finals, and hopefully a championship.
There are a number of players who outperformed expectations last year. Now we have to sit back and hope we have the next Elvis, not the next Lipps, Inc.
Going into 2010, there are at least ten players who owners hope can put together a repeat of their chart topping performances of 2009.
If these ten players start slow, panic is going to be the new buzz word.
Matt Schaub, QB HOU
Injury concerns are always there for Schaub, but he torched his 2008 numbers by posting a gaudy 4,770 passing yards, with 29 touchdown passes, and 15 interceptions in 2009.
Fantasy owners would like to see the interceptions go down, but another season of similar production would truly put Schaub in the elite category.
Jamaal Charles, RB, KC
Charles is at the center of one of the most prevalent questions in the fantasy world right now. In fact, it’s been one of the hottest topics in the DLF forum.
How much will Thomas Jones alter his production?
The coaching staff still seems concerned with his workload. However, it’s going to be awful tough to limit a player who gained 1,120 yards on just 190 carries.
If Charles gets 300 touches this season, he could easily be a top-5 pick in 2011. If Jones gets goal line carries and truly eats into his workload, all bets are off.
Cedric Benson, RB, CIN
After four very forgettable years, Benson exploded for 1,251 yards, and six touchdowns for the Bengals last season.
There is a significant amount of risk with Benson, based on his off the field track record and pedestrian 3.8 career yards per carry average. Bernard Scott also figures to get his fair share of touches as well.
If Benson starts slow, he’s going to be a prime candidate for a midseason trade from a non-contending team in a dynasty league.
DeSean Jackson, WR PHI
It’s extremely rare to have a player so dominant in fantasy who relies so much on the big play. Most owners shy away from players like that.
Jackson may be the exception to the rule.
After a rookie season featuring 62 catches for 912 yards, and two touchdowns, Jackson posted an amazing 1,156 yards, and nine touchdowns on the same number of catches in 2009. When you add his return statistics, that was good enough to place him as high as second in receiver scoring in non-PPR formats.
It seemed that owners expected some type of production dip from him each week last season, but it just never happened. We typically see deep threats like Jackson turn into Ashley Lelie instead of Jerry Rice.
Many fantasy owners are saying Jeremy Maclin may be the better bet long term in Philadelphia, including many in our forum. Another season like 2009 would put Jackson into the top five or six receivers in dynasty leagues and close that argument, especially with a new quarterback throwing him the ball.
Miles Austin, WR, DAL
Where did that come from?
Austin was a popular sleeper around this time last season, but nobody expected the explosion we saw from him last season.
His 81 catches, 1,320 yards, and eleven touchdowns are ridiculous numbers, especially when you consider he wasn’t in the starting lineup for the Cowboys until their fifth game.
Many pundits think Dez Bryant is the future at wide receiver for Dallas. Austin is going to have something to say about that.
Steve Smith, WR, NYG
Smith is one of the most underrated receivers in all of fantasy.
He led the Giants with 107 catches, 1,220 yards and 7 touchdowns last season. As I’ve cited before on this site, those totals accounted for more receptions than Andre Johnson, more yards than Larry Fitzgerald and just two fewer touchdowns than Vincent Jackson.
Not bad, eh?
If he can replicate those numbers with the expected emergence of Hakeem Nicks, he’ll be among the best fantasy wideouts for years to come, especially in PPR formats.
Percy Harvin, WR, MIN
There’s no doubting Harvin’s talent, but his migraines are a major concern.
His rookie season featured 790 yards and six touchdowns, but anyone who watched him feels like that’s just the tip of the iceberg.
With Sidney Rice out for much of the year, the Vikings are going to expect even more from Harvin.
A slow start or setback with his health would send fantasy owners into panic mode.
Vernon Davis, TE, SF
Was it a fluke?
Davis annually teased fantasy owners with his freakish size, speed and athleticism, combined with a lack of production.
However, he finally put it all together in 2009 with 78 receptions, 965 yards, and a ridiculous 13 touchdown catches.
For years, his owners have been clamoring for Davis to give them a reason to argue his status as the No. 1 TE in dynasty leagues.
Now it’s time for him to keep that distinction.
Brent Celek, TE, PHI
Celek was another of our sleepers from last year and he rewarded us with 76 catches, 971 yards, and eight touchdowns.
Celek has seemingly established himself as one of the premier TEs in reality and fantasy.
Just like Jackson, there may be some questions surrounding his production with a new quarterback, but he’s proved he has the talent to be an elite force.
Jerome Harrison, RB, CLE
Harrison is a late addition to this list after the injury to Montario Hardesty.
After Jamal Lewis was hurt last season, Harrison responded by rushing for 862 yards and five touchdowns, including an amazing 561 yards in the last three weeks of the season.
There is a significant problem, though.
Harrison had a ridiculous 106 carries those last three games, which would equate to around 560 carries for a season. That’s simply too big of a workload for any player, no less one who stands 5’9” and weighs around 200 pounds.
What can he do for an encore?
Fantasy owners who held on to him have seen his value climb back up and are salivating to see what he can do in 2010.
Most of the players on this list have been drafted highly in new dynasty leagues, or are coveted by their owners as very key contributors. They also have another thing in common – they have no track record of sustained success.
Owners in dynasty leagues are hopeful that each of these players can perform up to lofty expectations.
If they can’t, it’s going to spell doom for a lot of teams out there.