The premise is simple: I'll tell you what players you can confidently start the season with, and what players should cause your stomach to wobble if you have to start them.
2006 stats at NFL.com and pro-football-reference.com
Roy Williams (WR): Roy Williams makes me feel funny all over. He's the sort of player you can get giddy thinking about. He's an amazing player capable of becoming the best WR in the league very soon--possibly even this year.
Jon Kitna (QB): Kitna was not even on my list of draftable QBs. Then I looked at the numbers to find Kitna ranked 5th among QBs in fantasy ppg last season, and I saw the significance of passing yardage on a QB's fantasy numbers. Mike Martz, Roy Williams, a lousy running game, a lousy defense--OK, I'm convinced Kitna is a starting fantasy quarterback. Unless your league includes negative scoring.
I want nothing to do with Tatum Bell or Kevin Jones or any other running back on the Lions' roster. If I am somehow starting Bell or Jones week one, it means an epic travesty occurred on draft day. Maybe I got drunk too early. Maybe I was violently ill and speaking in tongues and "Tatum Bell" randomly came out. Maybe an alien replaced me with an android that is very, very stupid. I don't know, but if Bell or Jones are in my week one starting lineup, it means something utterly and stupendously awful happened to me on August 17th.
And finally, what do we do with Calvin Johnson?
I've got a long bias against rookie WRs, despite Terry Glenn, Randy Moss, Anquan Boldin, or Marques Colston. I don't trust WRs to pick up the complicated pro passing game that quickly. So despite all the hype Johnson is getting, I don't trust him whatsoever as a first year fantasy WR.
For laughs, I decided to look back at the first wide receivers selected in previous drafts (at DraftHistory.com), and examine their rookie seasons. Here are the first WRs selected in the previous 16 drafts (number selected overall in parentheses, rookie season receiving yardage and TD totals following).
2006 Santonio Holmes (25) 824-2
2005 Braylon Edwards (3) 512-3
2004 Larry Fitzgerald (3) 780-8
2003 Charles Rogers (2) 243-3
2002 Donte Stallworth (13) 594-8
2001 David Terrell (8) 415-4
2000 Peter Warrick (4) 592-4
1999 Torry Holt (6) 788-6
1998 Kevin Dyson (16) 263-2
1997 Ike Hilliard (7) 42-0
1996 Keyshawn Johnson (1) 844-8
1995 Michael Westbrook (4) 522-1
1994 Charles Johnson (17) 577-3
1993 Curtis Conway (7) 231-2
1992 Desmond Howard (4) 20-0
1991 Herman Moore (10) 135-0
In the past 16 seasons, the first WR selected in the draft has never had greater than 844 yards. Only 4 of the 16 had more than 4 TDs. Some of these WRs were massive disappointments in their careers, but even those that developed into good or great WRs were somewhere between awful and underwhelming as rookies. I'm fairly sure some of them came into the league with as much hype as Calvin Johnson is receiving now, and yet as rookies, they were horrid to mediocre fantasy producers.
So, are you still excited about Calvin Johnson for 2007?