Each year NFL fantasy drafts are filled with late round value picks and surprise sleepers. In addition to our Fantasy Football Top 10 Busts From 2008, we have compiled a list of the Top 10 Fantasy Football Value Picks of 2008. We analyzed the players 2008 Average Draft Position (ADP) and their season stats to determine which players had the best value for where they were drafted. Our fantasy experts also discuss how last seasons performances will impact their position in this years fantasy football drafts.
#10. Matt Ryan
The 2008 Rookie of the Year exceeded all expectations throwing for over 3,400 yards and 16 TDs. With a 2008 ADP of 165, Ryan was typically drafted after QBs like Tarvaris Jackson, JaMarcus Russell, and J.T. O’sullivan. Although his production did drop off slightly at the end of last season as he failed to top a 100 passer rating in any of his last five games, we don’t see a sophomore slump here. With Michael Turner, Roddy White, and the addition of Tony Gonzalez, he has all the tools in place to be one of the leagues top pocket passers in the years to come.
2009 Draft Day Outlook: Ryan is worthy of at least a QB2 slot this season. He’ll probably be around the 10th QB taken in the draft so don’t wait too long if you are targeting Ryan.
#9. Eddie Royal
Royal went undrafted in many fantasy leagues last year, however he did not stay on the waiver wire long after his week one performance where he snagged 9 receptions for 146 yards and a TD. Although Royal averaged just over 50 yards in the final seven games, he recorded the second most catches for a rookie receiver in league history with 91. Royal did much of his damage on shorter routes, but he certainly has shown he has the speed to stretch the field.
2009 Draft Day Outlook: Royal should make a nice fit for McDaniels quick hit offense and he should maintain WR2 value, especially in PPR leagues.
#8. Aaron Rodgers
Aaron Rodgers did just about everything they needed him to do in Green Bay except win. But who cares about “real” wins in fantasy football? His 2008 numbers were worthy of a QB1 spot in many leagues. Owners could not be happier getting that kind of production out of a guy that typically went around the 115th overall pick. Rodgers threw for over 4,000 yards, 28 TDs, and more importantly he played in all 16 games as he battled an early season shoulder injury.
2009 Draft Day Outlook: Rodgers is young and should only improve. Look for him to be a nice QB1 option this season and he’ll be among the top five QBs to go in your draft.
#7. Antonio Bryant
After sitting out the 2007 season, Bryant went undrafted in most fantasy leagues in 2008. In deeper leagues he was on average the 190th overall pick. Pretty good value for a guy that ended the season with 83 receptions for over 1,200 yards, including a 200 yard game in week 14. We like Bryant’s talent and he should be motivated on a one-year contract, but the QB situation in Tampa Bay remains a mystery and new offensive coordinator Jeff Jagodzinski brings an unpredictable offense focused on zone running and vertical passes.
2009 Draft Day Outlook: Bryant is still the No. 1 receiver in Tampa with a lot to prove, but don’t expect 2008 numbers. He’s worth a look for your WR2 slot.
#6. Michael Turner
Although Turner was a favorite sleeper pick last season, we felt he still far exceeded what many fantasy owners expected with their 4th or 5th round pick. Turner was second in the league in rushing yards and shredded defenses for nearly 1,700 yards and 17 TDs. The one downside to Turner is his receiving ability, or lack there of. Last season he only had 6 receptions for 41 yards.
2009 Draft Day Outlook: Don’t be surprised to see Turner go as early as the 2nd or 3rd overall pick. His lack of receiving ability means no extra value in a PPR league, however he’s a safe bet to score and still remains an elite fantasy pick this year.
#5. Roddy White
WIth a 2008 ADP of 73, White was a pleasant surprise to fantasy owners. Proving that 2007 was not a fluke, White hauled in 88 receptions for 1,382 yards and 7TDs in 2008. He averaged 86.4 YPG and he had a least 50 yards receiving in every game except two. White’s ability to get deep, and his strong short and intermediate routes have made him on of the leagues better receivers.
2009 Draft Day Outlook: Don’t expect to snag White late in this years draft as he will probably be one of the first ten WRs taken. The presence of Tony Gonzalez should draw some coverage away from White. White is an excellent WR1 target.
#4. Matt Forte
Forte was another excellent 2008 value pick and another rookie with an exceptional season. He was drafted around the 75th overall pick last year. Racking up over 1,200 yards rushing, and 63 receptions he has proven he is a complete RB. With the addition of Jay Cutler and improvements to their O-line, expect the bears to stretch the field and open up some more running lanes for Forte.
2009 Draft Day Outlook: Forte’s outstanding rookie performance has quickly vaulted him into elite status. Forte should be a top-three pick in most leagues. With 63 receptions last season, Forte adds even more value in a PPR league.
#3. Chris Johnson
With an 2008 ADP of around 100, Johnson was a fantasy stud. Running for over 1,200 yards and 9 TDs, he lead all rookies in rushing yards per game with 81.9 ypg and he finished second in AP rookie of the year voting to Matt Ryan. The Titans plan on expanding his role in 2009 so we expect he will eclipse all his numbers from last season.
2009 Draft Day Outlook: Johnson still looks to lose a few goal line carries to LenDale White and there have not been much improvements to their passing game so he can expect to face a lot of 8 and 9-man fronts. If not for those two factors, Johnson would easily be a top-tier RB. Johnson has explosive speed and is deadly in the open field so you can still expect him to be snagged in the first round of most drafts this year.
#2. Steve Slaton
Last season Slaton was drafted around the 140th overall pick. A big part of that was due to the uncertainty at the RB position in Houston. Ahman Green, Chris Brown and Steve Slaton were looking to split carries and it was unclear if any of them would provide fantasy value. Injuries to both Green and Brown opened the door for Slaton and he never looked back rushing for 1282 yards and 9 TDs.
2009 Draft Day Outlook: Originally thought of a third-down back, Slaton has proved he can handle the load of a full-time RB rushing 268 times last season. Don’t forget he also had 50 receptions last season so he should see a bump in value in PPR leagues. Slaton should be a first or second round pick in all fantasy drafts and a solid RB1 selection.
#1. DeAngelo Williams
With a 2008 ADP of 91, WIlliams finished his breakout season 3rd in the league in rushing with 1,515 yards, and led all RB’s in TD’s with 18. A majority of his yards came during the second half of the season where he rushed for 100 or more yards in 7 out of the last 9 games. Lets also not forget his 4 TD performances in weeks 13 and 16. Williams also rewarded fantasy owners by not fumbling once all season.
2009 Draft Day Outlook: You can expect a decline in his numbers across the board. Williams showed his big play ability last season by scoring six of his touchdowns from at least 30 yards out. With Carolina’s commitment run the ball, both Williams and Stewart will have fantasy value. Williams will still go in the first round in most drafts, just don’t expect a repeat of 2008.