(July 16, 2007) – We, as fantasy football owners, can sometimes have short memories. Instead of looking at a player's overall value, we rate him based on what he did (or didn't do) in his most recent season. That sort of outlook can make us pass on certain players, especially veterans, when we have our drafts. In order to avoid this sort of scenario, we've highlighted 12 players who could fall in drafts but can still offer some statistical potential.
Tatum Bell, RB, Detroit: The status of Kevin Jones, who continues to recover from a surgical procedure on his foot, will determine how much value Bell will have in drafts. Considered the favorite to start if Jones is unavailable for the start of the regular season, Bell could become a viable starter for owners under the guidance of offensive coordinator Mike Martz if he is thrust into a prominent role. While he could lose goal-line looks to T.J. Duckett, Bell is still worth a middle-round choice until, and if, Jones is deemed 100 percent.
Chris Brown, RB, Tennessee: The fact that the Titans added Brown could be an indication that the team wasn't impressed with either LenDale White or Chris Henry in offseason workouts. A former 1,000-yard rusher who at 26 still has a lot of fuel left in the tank, Brown is a talented back who could sneak past both White and Henry and develop into a starter for head coach Jeff Fisher. A backfield committee could be the final scenario when the regular season opens, but Brown is still well worth a middle- to late-round selection.
Jake Delhomme, QB, Carolina: Delhomme took some heat for the struggles of his team last season, but he was without All-Pro wideout Steve Smith for two contests and was forced to miss three starts of his own due to an injured thumb. Now that he and Smith are 100 percent, it wouldn't be a shock to see Delhomme produce 3,500-plus passing yards with 18-22 total touchdowns in 2007. He isn't a viable No. 1 fantasy quarterback, but Delhomme could be a solid reserve and occasional starter against weaker opponents.
Joe Horn, WR, Atlanta: Once considered an elite receiver in fantasy football, Horn's value has taken a nosedive in recent seasons due to injuries and inconsistent production. While it's evident that his best statistical seasons are far behind him, Horn should still be a prominent component in the pass-laden offense of new head coach Bobby Petrino. Where his value lies is in that Horn should still be available in the middle to late rounds, and that could make him a decent value selection as a No. 3 or 4 fantasy receiver.
Edgerrin James, RB, Arizona: James was considered an enormous disappointment in his first season in the desert, but he finished with three 100-yard performances and three touchdowns in his final five starts and should bounce back in the offense of head coach Ken Whisenhunt. The offensive wizard wants to run the football about 60 percent of the time, and that could mean 325-plus carries for the talented veteran back. If Russ Grimm can fix the offensive line, James should have a chance to improve on his 2006 totals.
Julius Jones, RB, Dallas: Jones, who rushed for 1,000-plus yards in 2006 for the first time in his career, could turn into a tremendous bargain in drafts. The former Notre Dame runner is in a contract year, which has been known to motivate some athletes, and he seems to be much more comfortable with new head coach Wade Phillips at the helm. He will continue to share work with and be chosen behind Marion Barber, but Jones could be the better value choice in terms of his overall numbers and where he will be drafted.
Randy McMichael, TE, St. Louis: An underrated tight end, McMichael has caught at least 60 passes in each of the past three seasons and should see an increase in value with the Rams. While he can be a little inconsistent at times, McMichael did post a career-best five touchdowns under Scott Linehan, who was the offensive coordinator in Miami in 2005 before he took over the reins in St. Louis. A viable No. 1 or 2 fantasy tight end, McMichael will still be on the board in the late rounds and should be a tremendous draft bargain.
Donovan McNabb, QB, Philadelphia: The fact that McNabb has missed 13 starts in the past two seasons due to injuries will cause his value in drafts to slide, but his potential to produce immense statistical success can't be overlooked. He is ahead of schedule in his rehabilitation from an injured knee, and he should be under center in the regular-season opener barring setbacks. McNabb has proved that he can record the same sort of numbers as first- and second-round selections, so don't be afraid to take the risk in drafts.
Marcus Pollard, TE, Seattle: Pollard fell off the fantasy football radar in two seasons with the Lions, but he could see a revitalization of sorts now that he's in Seattle. Head coach Mike Holmgren likes to use his tight ends in the pass attack -- Jeremy Stevens and Itula Mili combined to average 41 receptions, 476 yards and almost four touchdowns over the past four seasons -- so Pollard should be much more involved than he was in Detroit. He shouldn't be mistaken for a fantasy starter, but Pollard could become a useful reserve.
Jerry Porter, WR, Oakland: Porter found himself in the doghouse of former head coach Art Shell last season, but he has recommitted himself to football after the addition of new head man Lane Kiffin. In fact, reports indicate that Porter was a real standout in recent OTAs and seems to have locked up a starting role alongside Ronald Curry. While no one expects Kiffin to turn the Raiders offense around in a flash, the fact that Porter has had success in the past and will once again be a prominent component raises his value.
Ben Roethlisberger, QB, Pittsburgh: Big Ben endured a serious motorcycle accident in the offseason of 2006, which raised questions about whether or not he was 100 percent during the season. He wasn't at all consistent under center, and his poor decisions in the pocket resulted in an NFL-worst 23 interceptions. But now that he is back to 100 percent and has Bruce Arians as the offensive coordinator, Roethlisberger has a chance to reemerge as a viable option in fantasy football and is well worth a middle- to late-round pick.
Fred Taylor, RB, Jacksonville: Taylor might be 31 years old, but he proved last season that he still has the skills and abilities to be a productive starter. He rushed for a solid 1,146 yards and found the end zone six times in 15 starts, and he'll remain atop the Jacksonville depth chart even with Maurice Jones-Drew in the mix. The presence of Jones-Drew will push Taylor into the middle rounds, and to land a borderline No. 2 or 3 fantasy back with 1,000-yard potential at that point in drafts would be considered a serious bargain.