Before I submit to you my picks, this list is based on the following criteria: past performance, that team’s current roster situation, and the player’s team’s performance past and present. I will even go so far as to predict what kind of stats to expect. And as always, my picks do not necessarily reflect the views of NFL GRIDIRON GAB. All of that said, here they are:
1. LaDanian Tomlinson, RB, San Diego
Pretty much a no-brainer here. You know what to expect out of him – a supreme RB who can run, catch, heck – he can even throw the ball if need be. He’s that good. A lock for the Hall Of Fame eventually.
2007 Projected Stats – 1,750 yards rushing w/15 TD’s; 550 yards receiving w/3 TD’s
2. Steven Jackson, RB, St. Louis
He’s a lesser version (not by much) of LT. Of course it helps him greatly by having a very good offensive line. And it also helps that the Rams play in a division that is fairly mediocre vs. the run.
2007 Projected Stats – 1,450 yards rushing w/10 TD’s; 475 yards receiving w/4 TD’s
3. Frank Gore, RB, San Francisco
Gore had a breakout type of season in ’06. Depending on your definition of what “breakout” is, and if the 49ers’ O-line can be consistent and healthy, then Gore will post some sick numbers on the ground. Jury’s out on Gore’s claim that he wants to get 2,500 total yards this season. I have to say not quite.
2007 Projected stats – 1,650 yards rushing w/12 TD’s; 300 yards receiving w/ 2 TD’s
4. Peyton Manning, QB, Indianapolis
Those of you who read NFL GRIDIRON GAB know that I am a diehard Colts fan. But even a non-Colts fan knows this about Manning: He’s consistent, he punks defenses like a red-headed stepchild, and most importantly, he is the NFL’s version of General Patton. In other words, he wins. The numbers (oh did I mention he has a Super Bowl for his efforts?) speak for themselves.
2007 Projected Stats – 68% completion rate, 4,500 passing yards w/35 TD’s and 15 INT’s
5. Larry Johnson, RB, Kansas City (or some other team)
Johnson’s in a unique situation. He’s holding out for more cash. Carl Peterson’s playing hardball with him. Something’s got to give here. With those things fresh in Johnson’s mind, I expect him to either go to Chief’s training camp with the mentality that it is a “contract is up” kind of year for him, or he will get traded to another team then hold a grudge. Which is kinda scary considering the numbers Larry put up in the past. Bad news for the Chiefs, good news for the team he gets traded to (assuming that happens).
2007 Projected Stats (with Kansas City) – 1,700 yards rushing w/9 TD’s; 350 yards receiving w/ 2 TD’s
2007 Projected Stats (any other team) – 1,550 yards rushing w/8 TD’s; 280 yards receiving w/2 TD’s
6. Tom Brady, QB, New England
You thought Brady was good before? Now he has weapons at his disposal (upgraded ones anyways). Anytime you have Randy Moss and Donte Stallworth as your wideouts and Wes Welker in the slot, you can’t help but to be worried. Assuming that Moss plays like the Moss of old and Stallworth stays healthy, it is entirely possible that stat-wise, Brady could have a career year. This alone should again fuel the “Who’s better – Manning or Brady?” debate.
2007 Projected Stats – 65% completion rate, 4,200 passing yards w/35 TD’s and 18 INT’s
7. Drew Brees, QB, New Orleans
The Saints of last season were no fluke, in my opinion. Considering that Brees and Marques Colston went Hurricane Katrina on the NFC South and other unwitting opponents, you’d think that you’d get more of the same. But there’s a slight problem. The league now knows all about Colston, therefore he’s a marked man. And Brees will have a harder time putting up the stats he had from last season. Which is why why Reggie Bush and Deuce McAllister are so important for the Saints to go further this season. Saints will romp in the NFC South, but Brees stats will suffer, despite all of that.
2007 Projected Stats – 60% completion rate, 3,800 yards passing yards w/30 TD’s and 20 INT’s
8. Marvin Harrison, WR, Indianapolis
Like his buddy Peyton, Harrison is as consistent as they come, WR-wise. Almost robot-like, so to speak. The Colts being in the weak AFC South benefits Harrison (a lot of WR’s could benefit by playing the Texans/Jaguars/Titans). The Colts drafting Anthony Gonzalez (WR- OSU) is gonna automatically draw double-teams to Marvin’s side. Which means more balls going to Reggie Wayne and of course Gonzalez. Which isn’t all bad for the Colts. Expect a slight regression in Harrison’s stats overall.
2007 Projected Stats – 1,200 receiving yards w/ 7 TD’s
9. Calvin Johnson, WR, Detroit
What’s that you say? Calvin #9? Sure why not? Consider this: Johnson has Mike Martz as a coach in Detroit (remember him in St. Louis?). He also has Roy Williams at the other WR. He also has Jon Kitna as the QB (any other QB and Johnson wouldn’t be on this list). All those positives don’t necessarily guarantee 10 wins (you hear that Kitna?), but from a statistical point of view, Calvin should have some decent numbers. And a Rookie Of The Year nod is a distinct possibility for him.
2007 Projected Stats – 1,100 receiving yards w/8 TD’s
10. Willis McGahee, Baltimore
It’s kinda amazing what a change of scenery and an improved O-line can do to a RB’s career. McGahee is a prime example. He leaves a Bills team and goes to the Ravens (sort of like hitting the statistics lottery). Willis inherits an ideal situation with a superior O-line in Baltimore which means nothing but good things for him. Oh, he can catch the ball pretty well, too.
2007 Projected Stats – 1,450 yards rushing w/13 TD’s; 400 yards receiving w/3 TD’s