The start of every new fantasy football season brings a high level of competition, excitement and, of course, questions about players. Who will be the biggest surprise? Which rookie will have the most value?
Will I be able to pronounce Houshmandzadeh?
OK, well that last one won't be as important, but we have come up with 10 questions (and answers) that all owners will want to know about when it comes time for the draft.
Who will be the best player in fantasy football? It is almost impossible not to list LaDainian Tomlinson as the top player, as he'll be the first overall selection in 99.9 percent of all seasonal drafts. After all, he put countless teams on his broad shoulders last season and led them to the postseason, if not a league title, as he rushed for an NFL-best 1,815 yards and had an NFL-record 31 total touchdowns (33 if you add his two touchdown passes). As for the second-best player for 2007, we like the skills and abilities of Steven Jackson.
Who will be the biggest surprise player? We'll double our pleasure with this particular question and list two potential surprises: Brandon Jackson and D.J. Hackett. Jackson, a rookie running back out of Nebraska, will compete with veteran Vernand Morency for the top spot on the Packers' depth chart. While he is in need of some polish, Jackson has the tools to be a nice asset for owners. Hackett, who will replace the departed Darrell Jackson (49ers) as a starter in Seattle, has 1,000-yard potential and could be a terrific draft value.
Who will be the biggest disappointment?Fantasy football owners who fielded Maurice Jones-Drew late last season were rewarded with some immense statistical success -- so much that he was considered to be a surefire No. 1 fantasy back across the board. However, the Jaguars decided to retain the services of veteran Fred Taylor, who will continue to start, and will now have fullback Greg Jones back from an injured knee. A backfield committee could develop as a result, so Jones-Drew will find it harder to find consistent success.
Who will be the best rookie player? Most of the talk about the draft surrounded Brady Quinn, JaMarcus Russell, Adrian Peterson and Calvin Johnson, but it will be Marshawn Lynch who is the most coveted member of the 2007 class in seasonal fantasy football formats. A versatile back with immense skills as a receiver out of the backfield, Lynch should be the starter for head coach Dick Jauron out of the gate and has all the tools to be a terrific No. 2 fantasy back. In fact, he could even be this season's version of the Colts' Joseph Addai.
Who will be the most underrated player? We all know about his recent proneness to serious injuries, but the statistical potential that Donovan McNabb possesses makes him well worth the risk in all drafts. The MVP of the first half of last season, McNabb was on pace to throw for more than 4,500 yards and would have had more fantasy points than even Peyton Manning. He should be on the field in training camp after a surgical procedure on his knee, so McNabb could become a nice value if he falls into the fourth round or later.
Who will be the most overrated player? Once considered a viable No. 1 overall selection in drafts, Randy Moss's fall from the elite players in fantasy football has been evident in recent seasons. After an offseason trade to New England, however, some believe he can re-claim his status as a premier wideout. That won't be the case, though, in an unselfish Patriots offense loaded with talent at the position. Moss is a more viable No. 2 fantasy receiver without question, but those who see him as a fantasy stud could be disappointed with his level of production.
Who will be this season's version of Drew Brees? It will be difficult to find a quarterback not listed among the elite who will throw for close to 4,500 yards, but we do like the statistical upside of Philip Rivers. He performed well in his first full season as an NFL starter, and there's no doubt that he will continue to improve under the guidance of new head coach and offensive wizard Norv Turner. A viable No. 1 fantasy quarterback, Rivers has the potential to record better than 3,800 passing yards and 25 touchdowns.
Who will be this season's version of Frank Gore? Since Gore broke out in his second NFL season, we'll choose another runner who will enter his second season -- Laurence Maroney. An explosive back with terrific all-around skills, Maroney is now the featured back in New England after the release of veteran Corey Dillon. With a plethora of talent in the pass attack to keep defenses honest, a solid offensive line ahead of him and the eighth-easiest run schedule, Maroney could put up No. 1 fantasy back-caliber numbers across the board.
Who will be this season's version of Mike Furrey? A veteran receiver who found most of his previous success at the Arena League level, Furrey came out of nowhere last season to produce tremendous numbers in the offensive attack of Mike Martz. That wideout this season could be Ronald Curry, who showed some serious potential at the end of 2006 and will now be in a far more prominent role for Oakland after the trade that sent Randy Moss to New England. Barring injuries, Curry could be in line for a season with 70-plus catches.
Who will be this season's version of Kellen Winslow? Each and every report this offseason has raved about the potential of Vernon Davis, who is an absolute physical specimen with all the abilities of a surefire No. 1 fantasy tight end. He has spent much of the offseason working out and gaining a rapport with Alex Smith, and he has also developed a much better grasp of the 49ers offense. He could slide into the middle to late rounds in some drafts, so Davis could turn into an absolute steal for owners who wait at the position.