Looking back, last season was a good one for fantasy predictions

The 2010 fantasy football season is quickly approaching, and it's going to be a major campaign at the National Football League. For the first time ever, we'll have our very own fantasy game that you can register to play now.

Not only is it the official game of the league, but it's also the only fantasy platform that features in-game video highlights. If you have Chris Johnson on your fantasy team and he scores on a 70-yard run, you'll see it. Our product also has the other bells and whistles you expect, including full customization, enhanced live scoring and drag-and-drop lineups.

Oh, and you get all of this for FREE.

NFL.com will also be offering a complete slate of preseason fantasy content to help you prepare for draft day. Our exclusive draft kit will be available June 1 and includes everything from sleepers and busts to projections, complete rankings, our Top 200, breakout players and much, much more. In the process of promoting the release of our draft kit, I received several responses to my Twitter account asking if I ever looked back at how our 2009 predictions panned out.

Sounded like a pretty good idea to me.

After all, if we want you to come back season in and season out for all of your fantasy football needs (and we do), there has to be at least some sort of basis for success. You're not going to buy a car with a bad reputation, right? Of course not, you're going to research and get the best bang for your buck. And we want to be the Lexus of fantasy content. So at the request of some of our fellow "tweeters," here's our preseason grades from the 2009 season. We've graded ourselves in terms of touchdowns (our picks scored big points for owners) and turnovers (our picks were just bad, plain and simple).

As you'll read, we found the end zone far more often than we turned the ball over.

Touchdowns

One of the biggest sleepers we promoted last season was Ray Rice, who exceeded even our expectations with 78 receptions, 2,041 scrimmage yards and eight total touchdowns. We also told fantasy owners to target deep sleepers like Jamaal Charles, Jerome Harrison, Austin Collie, Pierre Garcon, Brent Celek and Jermichael Finley, all of whom made a significant impact at some point during the season. In fact, Charles, Celek and Finley were so good that they're now ranked among the top fantasy players at their position.

Matt Schaub was one of our favorite potential breakout candidates. The Texans quarterback avoided injuries and made good on our projections, throwing for close to 4,800 yards and 29 touchdowns. DeSean Jackson also took that next step to fantasy stardom, as we expected, and is now one of the elite players at his position.

We also predicted that Ronnie Brown would bounce back and become a solid fantasy runner. That was true, until he went down with another ailment. Despite much resistance from fans, we also suggested that Tom Brady shouldn't be the top fantasy quarterback. That was a spot reserved for Drew Brees, who has now clearly passed the Patriots signal-caller in terms of value.

Chris Johnson's immense success was hard to foresee, but we also had him in the top five among running backs in our final rankings. We also told you that Tony Romo was still a No. 1 fantasy quarterback, even without Terrell Owens at his disposal, and that Aaron Rodgers was not a one-season wonder in Titletown.

In terms of players to avoid last season, we scored some very high marks.

Matt Cassel, Jay Cutler, Marshawn Lynch, Clinton Portis, Antonio Bryant, Braylon Edwards and T.J. Houshmandzadeh were all listed in our busts column. Another player we advised you to avoid was LaDainian Tomlinson. Despite tons of reader feedback saying he would remain an elite player, Tomlinson succumbed to age and a heavy career workload (as we predicted), much like many of the 30-year-old running backs before him. We also told you to pass on Brian Westbrook, who was a major disappointment.

Fumbles

While we did hit on far more predictions than we missed, there were some players that burned us. At the top of that list was Matt Forte, who was second in our rankings. (Yes, that one hurt.) Not only did his numbers crumble, but Forte was hard for fantasy leaguers to even start down the stretch. From a sleeper perspective, Trent Edwards, Darren McFadden (we should have known better than to trust a Raider!), Donnie Avery and Anthony Gonzalez didn't pan out. Matt Ryan, Kevin Smith and Dwayne Bowe were a few other players we missed the mark on. Each failed to meet expectations, both on the field and in fantasy football.

Thomas Jones, who seemed destined for a statistical fall with Leon Washington and Shonn Greene in the mix, instead finished fifth in fantasy points among running backs on NFL.com for the second consecutive season. You can't win 'em all! Looking forward, I think we can safely assume that Jones won't reach that level again in 2010! Eli Manning also took us out to the woodshed, producing his best fantasy season ever, and Marion Barber's numbers didn't exactly work out for us either. We had him ranked in the top 12 at his position. Unfortunately, injuries and the late-season emergence of Felix Jones (who is a popular sleeper in 2010) turned Barber into a disappointment.

Overview

The 2009 fantasy season was clearly a positive one for NFL.com. While we certainly missed on our share of predictions, we more than made up for it with some of our picks among sleepers, deep sleeper and busts. With a new feature, our FPA (fantasy points allowed) ratings, to go along with all of the traditional fantasy content (sleepers, busts, etc.) you need to succeed, we're looking to make the 2010 fantasy season even better.

It's our goal to help you follow in the footsteps of the 2009 New Orleans Saints and win a league championship.

Michael Fabiano is an award-winning fantasy football analyst on NFL.com. Have a burning question for Michael on anything fantasy football related? Leave it in our comments section or send it to AskFabiano@nfl.com!

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