Here are my top 15 picks from the 2008 NFL Draft Class that should play important roles on fantasy football teams this year and possibly for years to come!
#1 – Darren McFadden – RB – Oakland Raiders – 1st round pick 4th overall
Even with a packed running back position in Oakland, McFadden should snag over half of the carries handed out to Raider running backs in 2008. Expecting 1,000 rushing yards and 8-10 touchdowns is very realistic.
#2 – Jonathan Stewart – RB – Carolina Panthers – 1st round 13th pick overall
With DeShaun Foster out of Carolina’s backfield, Stewart should compliment DeAngelo Williams perfectly. Together they should form a very tough tandem for Carolina in 2008. If you are planning on drafting either one of these guys it would be wise to draft the other as well. Together they could combine for 1,800 rushing yards and 15 total touchdowns. Stewart alone should be good for at least 800 yards and 8 touchdowns.
#3 – Kevin Smith – RB – Detroit Lions – 3rd round 64 overall
Drafted in the 3rd round, Smith has one of the best opportunities to become the number 1 fantasy running back among rookies in 2008. If he claims the wide open starting running back spot in Detroit, he could easily rush for 1,200 yards and 7-10 touchdowns.
#4 – Matt Forte – RB – Chicago Bears – 2nd round 44 overall
When the Bears second round pick was announced back in April, not many fans were jumping on the Forte band wagon. However with the releasing of former number 5 overall draft pick Cedric Benson, the Bears backfield has become somewhat suddenly depleted. With longtime backup running back Adrian Peterson and the little quick guy Garrett Wolf backing Peterson up, Forte should get plenty of playing time to signify being a potentially very good fantasy running back in 2008.
#5 – Ryan Torain – RB – Denver Broncos – 5th round 139 overall
In case you haven’t noticed, Denver running backs always come out of nowhere. And it appears that Ryan Torain may just become the next household name in fantasy football communities. With the release of Travis Henry, the Denver backfield now consists of Selvin Young, newly signed Michael Pittman, and you guessed it, Ryan Torain. It wouldn’t be surprising to see Torain become the full-time running back a month into the season. As of right now, Torain is a great buy low candidate with loads of potential.
#6 – James Hardy – WR – Buffalo Bills – 2nd round 41 overall
Finally breaking away from the running back trend, wide receiver James Hardy and his 6’6 height should net himself half a dozen touchdowns in 2008. If he starts alongside the speedy Lee Evans, Hardy has a great chance to be the best fantasy rookie wide receiver in 2008.
#7 – Ray Rice – RB – Baltimore Ravens – 2nd round 55 overall
Rice has huge potential should the oft-injured Willis MaGahee succumb to yet another injury. If you draft McGahee, Rice is a must have handcuff as he could instantly become a 100 yard and 1 touchdown per game rusher.
#8 – Steve Slaton – RB – Houston Texans – 3rd round 89 overall
A much hyped college prospect, Slaton is a small lightening quick running back who should see his share of carries in an unsettled Houston backfield. Although Slaton will be too small to handle a full-time running back role, he should prove to be a homerun threat every time he touches the ball.
#9 – Limas Sweed – WR – Pittsburgh Steelers – 2nd round 53rd overall
Sweed entered the 2007 college season as the best college wide receiver and NFL prospect, however season long nagging injuries soon negated his potential. Now after being drafted into a very good situation in Pittsburgh, Sweed has the chance to become the number one big man option for quarterback Ben Roethlisberger. Teaming with all-pro Hines Ward and the speedy Santonio Holmes, Sweed should fit nicely into the 3rd wide receiver spot and use his height against smaller and lesser used defensive backs. Unfortunately Sweed will have to share the ball a lot with all the talent around him which will limit his yardage total dramatically, however his ability to become a premiere red zone target option for Big Ben should entice fantasy owners to take a flyer on Sweed as their 3rd or 4th wide receiver option. How does 400-500 yards and 6-8 touchdowns sound?
#10 – Jordy Nelson – WR – Green Bay Packers – 2nd round 36 overall
Already loaded at the wide receiver position, Green Bay still drafted another wide receiver in Jordy Nelson with a very high second round pick. Fortunately for the Packers and fantasy owners, Nelson should fit perfectly into the Green Bay offense as a big and tall wide receiver who has shown to be great after the catch. Not to mention Nelson should also become the primary kick return with Koren Robinson out of Green Bay. Either way you look at, Nelson will be given plenty of opportunities to blend in and make a his mark with the Packers.
#1 – Early Doucet – WR – Arizona Cardinals – 3rd round 81 overall
If you are looking for a 1,000 yard receiver, Doucet is not your best bet. However with a great receiving corps around him, and a pass happy offense to boot, Doucet should settle in nicely as the 3rd wide receiver in Arizona. Expecting 500 yards and 5 touchdowns is very realistic for Doucet in 2008. With this in mind, Doucet’s biggest value will be if Anquan Boldin or Larry Fitzgerald get injured and he snags a few starts. If this happens Doucet should definitely become a reliable 3rd wide receiver option for fantasy teams.
#2 – Andre Caldwell – WR – Cincinnati Bengals – 3rd round 97 overall
Drafted after fellow teammate rookie wide receiver Jerome Simpson, Caldwell possess more experience against tougher competition and in high pressure situations that Simpson. In other words, Caldwell is a more polished and more pro-ready wide receiver than Simpson. This coupled with Carson Palmer at quarterback, and it wouldn’t be surprising to see Caldwell take over at wide receiver in Cincinnati if Chad Johnson eventually finds his way out of town.
#3 – Donnie Avery – WR – St. Louis Rams – 2nd round 33 pick overall
Donnie Avery, even though barely recognizable by football fans, still managed to become the first wide receiver taken in the 2008 NFL draft. Luckily this unknowing factor could be just the right ingredient for him and fantasy owners. Avery has the premiere speed, 4.3 at the combine, to fit very well with the type of fast elusive wide receivers the Rams have been known for in the past. If Marc Bulger can stay healthy for at least a good chuck of season, Avery could put of surprising stats for a rookie wide receiver. Keep in mind, Avery is a very high risk high reward pick as he could struggle mightily to begin the year. Anything from 200 yards and 2 touchdowns to 800 yards 8 touchdowns are possible.
#4 – Jerome Simpson – WR – Cincinnati Bengals – 2nd round 46th overall
Sometimes it doesn’t matter how good ‘you’ are, but rather how good your teammates around you are and how many opportunities you have. In Jerome Simpson’s case (or fellow rookie wide receiver Andre Caldwell for that matter), he has both of those things going for him. He will fall right into the hands of a great quarterback, Carson Palmer, and the opportunity to see lots of time at wide receiver with Chris Henry out of the picture and Chad Johnson likely to soon to be out of the picture. Simpson should team with TJ Houshmandzadeh and take full advantage of his surroundings and opportunities in 2008. All in all Jerome Simpson could become the next great Cincinnati wide receiver drafted in the 2nd round (ie. the new Chad Johnson, minus the personality).
#5 – Tim Hightower – RB – Arizona Cardinals – 5th round 149 overall
With running backs holding such a high priority in fantasy leagues, 5th round pick Tim Hightower has a chance to make an impact in what has been a very stagnant Arizona backfield. If Edgerrin James again regresses in 2008, Hightower may be in line for a bunch of carries and playing time this season as well as having the possibility to take over the full-time role in 2009.
For Additional Fantasy Football Rankings check out my other Articles.
RUNNING BACK RANKINGS
WIDE RECEIVER RANKINGS
TIGHT END RANKINGS
DEFENSIVE TEAM RANKINGS
DEFENSIVE LINEMEN RANKINGS
DEFENSIVE BACK RANKINGS
Thanks for Reading!
Good Luck to all you Fantasy Football fans out there and let the games begin!