Keeper League Specials
Keeper leagues or dynasty leagues, whatever you want to call them, they both mean the same thing: more prep work and scouting as you’re drafting for the long haul as well as the upcoming season. Doing your homework is a premium. Taking some chances is a must. Those that do both will come out on top at the end of the year, and will set themselves up for future.
First and foremost, when drafting in keeper leagues, you have to occasionally swing for the fences. If your roster is not made up of a half dozen picks that do nothing more than take up roster space, you might as well pencil in your middle of the pack finish. You’re too conservative and are likely always the one pouring the bubbly into the cup instead of drinking from it.
You’d screech at some of the names that have filled my rosters in the past. However, for every Anthony Morelli or Demetrius Summers, there’s a Stephen Jackson. For every Dusty Sprague and Herb Grigsby, there is a Darren McFadden. Keeper league champions draft Tim Tebow as a true freshman and wait a year (or sometimes two) before reaping the rewards. While others are taking players that can help complement their lineup this year, reach for the player that will anchor your lineup down the road.
With that in mind we kick off a series of sleepers and keeper articles by first looking at a few prospects that probably won't make their fantasy presence known until 2009.
2009 Fantasy Stars
Odds are if you are in a keeper league worth its salt, Texas Tech’s signal caller of the future, Taylor Potts, has already been stashed away. If not, he should be a priority on draft day. Tech quarterbacking numbers speak for themselves and the 6-5, 220 pounder from Abilene, Texas is next in line for fantasy glory. As a bonus, Potts will have two years to chuck the rock for the Red Raiders and your fantasy squad.
We really don’t need to delve into the attributes of the Mr. Potts. The only real thing you really need to know here is the number 31: the fewest amount of passing touchdowns from a Tech quarterback over the past six years.
We were ready to put Jeremy Avery in our Top 10 college fantasy football running backs heading into 2008. Then Ian Johnson decided to return to Boise. This was probably a smart move by Ian given the wealth of running backs in last April’s NFL draft, and it simply provides you another chance to grab Avery for mere pennies on the dollar this year.
Avery turned us on (insert joke here) from the moment he took his first toss sweep against Weber State during scrub time. Immediately becoming a keeper league player to watch. Avery is a burner that will torch WAC defenses this year and next. Fellow smurf turf running mate D.J Harper will get some looks as well, which is not a bad thing as fewer carries will keep the diminutive Avery’s legs fresh in between 20-yard jaunts.
As long as Gus Malzahn and Todd Graham are at Tulsa, the offense will continue to be one of the most dynamic in the country. With Courtney Tennial coming back from injury and Tarrion Adams coming off a successful 2007 campaign, it will be a crowded backfield in 2008. However, keeper league owners should certainly draft Charles Clay. Clay will not only give you some rapid rewards in 2008 while lining up in the slot and at running back, he should also be poised to explode in 2009 while working in a backfield that will have emptied out a bit.
When coach Mark Dantonio returned to East Lansing to call the shots, I never thought we would be looking at MSU quarterbacks and wide receivers as serious fantasy options. That notion was buried when Devin Thomas scorched Big Ten secondaries for 1260 yards and eight scores in 2007, thus proving that coach D is not afraid, if the personnel is in place, to divert from the “3 yards and a cloud of dust” playbook that he was so fond of in Cincinnati.
The one to watch for the Spartans in 2009 is quarterback Keith Nichol. Nichol was a highly touted Elite 11 quarterback coming out of high school. After originally verbally committing to Michigan State as a prep junior, the road to East Lansing proved long. Nichol took a detour to Norman, Ok, where as a wide-eyed true freshman he went toe to toe with potential Big 12 All-American Sam Bradford for the starting gig. After Bradford put a clamp on the starting job, Nichol’s days were numbered in Oklahoma and he recently found himself back in East Lansing where he will sit out a year and compete in 2009.
Nichol's transfer to Michigan State also set into motion a series of events that ends with the strong armed Nick Foles on his way to Arizona. Foles wasn't originally one that we pegged for keeper consideration, the recent move to Arizona changed that. With Willie Tuitama set to graduate at the end of the year, Foles may have found a perfect fit with the Wildcats in 2009.
Another transfer to draft and stow away for 2009 is Ryan Mallett. The difference is Mallett is leaving the State of Michigan for confines closer to his Texas home. Mallett is a shoe-in for the Arkansas Razorbacks’ starting job in 2009. The combination of Mallett’s cannon arm and Petrino’s offense could be a perfect fit.
Heh...how about some freshman?
Nearly every true freshman has keeper potential. Our look at the top incoming recruits back in April still holds true. However, here are some keeper league true freshman to draft and stow:
-E.J. Manuel of Florida State is my top rated incoming freshman quarterback. Barring a strange chain of events he probably won’t see the field in 2008, but will battle Christian Ponder for the starting gig in 2009. The big thing to watch here is how much PT Ponder gets this year. If Weatherford flakes out early, Ponder may grab hold of the job and not let go.
-Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’ve heard the name of quarterback Terrelle Pryor from Ohio State. He’s certainly going to be a top priority for keeper league owners on draft day.
-Brad Smith, Chase Daniel...Blaine Gabbert? That could be the succession plan for the Missouri Tigers. As the prior names suggest, Mizzou quarterbacks have been putting up hefty fantasy points for the last half dozen years.
-I love the running style of Oklahoma’s Jermie Calhoun. This kid’s combination of speed and power will afford significant carries once he’s afforded his time to shine.
-Running back Jamie Harper is in the same boat as Calhoun. Harper is one of the most physically impressive backs in the class of 2008. Don’t be surprised if he doesn’t get some carries straight out, despite a crowded backfield at Clemson.
-MarQueis Gray is the quarterback of the future for Minnesota. Gray is a raw skinny version of Vince Young. Head coach Tom Brewster has his work cut out for him at Minnesota, but the man can recruit.
Our full keeper list is below, and make sure you’re checking our draft kit for updates as we fall in love with potential keepers throughout the summer. Next up, we get back to present day as we'll take a look at the sleeper quarterbacks for 2008.
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