2010 Draft Prep: Buy-low candidates

Last year, in this same column, we told you about three buy-low candidates we were targeting in every draft: Joseph Addai, Cedric Benson and Ben Roethlisberger. They were considered damaged goods by every Fantasy owner following a sub-par 2008.

Well, all three had a bounce-back seasons in 2009, and they each outperformed their draft position by a significant margin. The owners who gambled on these players -- they were considered a "reach" on Draft Day -- ended up with a positive outcome.

This year, we're going to target a new group of buy-low candidates. What we've done is looked at the average draft position to see the players who we believe are falling too far in drafts. Some of these may be considered "sleepers," but you can check out that official list from me and Dave Richard in our respective Sleepers, Breakouts and Busts columns.

In our opinion, the players listed here will outperform their draft position in 2010 and reward those owners who take a chance a round or two before everyone else.

Ahmad Bradshaw, RB, New York Giants
Jamey's projection: 191 carries, 832 yards, five touchdowns; 25 catches, 222 yards, two touchdowns, two fumbles
Dave's projection: 192 carries, 855 yards, five touchdowns; 24 catches, 211 yards, one touchdown, two fumbles
Average Draft Position: No. 76 overall, No. 30 running back
Will be drafted in Round: 7
Will play like someone in Round: 5
It's clear that Bradshaw is the most talented running back for the Giants. The question is how many touchdowns will Brandon Jacobs take away? Jacobs and Bradshaw are going to split time, but Bradshaw has the ability to be a star if he was given the No. 1 job. But Jacobs has an edge in standard leagues since he should get carries at the goal line even though Bradshaw (seven) had two more rushing touchdowns than Jacobs (five) last year. Bradshaw is a better value than Jacobs since he's going later in drafts. He needs to stay healthy after dealing with foot injuries in 2009, and it appears like Bradshaw is back at 100 percent. The Giants should improve their ground game in 2010, and Bradshaw could lead the way. He's someone to target as a No. 3 or 4 Fantasy running back, but he could end up as a starter in plenty of leagues.

Michael Bush, RB, Oakland
Jamey's projection: 185 carries, 795 yards, eight touchdowns; 15 catches, 90 yards, two fumbles
Dave's projection: 202 carries, 852 yards, five touchdowns; 20 catches, 148 yards, three fumbles
Average Draft Position: No. 101 overall, No. 38 running back
Will be drafted in Round: 9
Will play like someone in Round: 5
We expect Bush to be the No. 1 running back for the Raiders. That's because Justin Fargas is no longer in Oakland, and Darren McFadden has continued to struggle. The Raiders plan to use Bush and McFadden in tandem, and Bush has shown in limited carries he can be productive. He's only carried the ball 218 times for 1,010 yards and six touchdowns the past two years, but his 4.6 yards per carry is solid. By comparison, McFadden has 217 carries for 856 yards (3.9 yards) and five touchdowns over that same span. Bush is more of a traditional rusher, and he should also be used near the goal line. We like Bush as a No. 3 Fantasy running back, and we would take him ahead of McFadden in all leagues even though McFadden is a better receiver. But that's how highly we think of Bush (and also how down we are on McFadden), and don't be surprised if he starts for you by the end of the season, especially in deeper formats.

Lee Evans, WR, Buffalo
Jamey's projection: 68 catches, 870 yards, five touchdowns
Dave's projection: 57 catches, 785 yards, five touchdowns, two fumbles
Average Draft Position: No. 124 overall, No. 41 wide receiver
Will be drafted in Round: 11
Will play like someone in Round: 8
Evans didn't like going from the No. 1 wide receiver to the No. 2 role last year when the Bills brought in Terrell Owens. Evans finished with career lows in catches (44) and yards (612), but he still managed seven touchdowns. But Evans is better than what he showed last season, and he will bounce back with a stronger performance. In six years, Evans has averaged 57 catches, 893 yards and seven touchdowns, which in a standard-scoring league equals 131 Fantasy points. Last year, if Evans reached those stats, he would have outscored Anquan Boldin (121), Calvin Johnson (120) and Mike Sims-Walker (113), to name a few. Now, can Evans get back to that level? That's the risk, especially with quarterback Trent Edwards. But Evans has played with J.P. Losman, Ryan Fitzpatrick and Edwards in his career and still played well. We're not talking about Evans as anything more than a No. 4 Fantasy receiver in standard leagues, and it's clear he's worth stashing on your bench with a late-round selection.

Anthony Gonzalez, WR, Indianapolis
Jamey's projection: 52 catches, 722 yards, four touchdowns
Dave's projection: 46 catches, 553 yards, four touchdowns, one fumble
Average Draft Position: No. 145 overall, No. 54 wide receiver
Will be drafted in Round: 13
Will play like someone in Round: 9
At this time last year we were talking about Gonzalez as a sleeper. He was stepping into the starting role vacated by Marvin Harrison, and he was Peyton Manning's new toy. Then Week 1 happened, and Gonzalez was lost for the year with a knee injury. When he was out, Pierre Garcon and Austin Collie emerged, but Gonzalez will return this year and play a prominent role for the Colts. He will likely push Collie to the bench, and Gonzalez can now show off his skills. In 2008, Gonzalez had 57 catches for 664 yards and four touchdowns as the No. 3 receiver behind Reggie Wayne and Harrison. Manning said this offseason that getting Gonzalez back was the equivalent of a big-time free agent acquisition. Manning will definitely look in Gonzalez's direction quite a bit, and Fantasy owners should target Gonzalez as a No. 4 or 5 wide receiver. He's not going to start in any leagues, but there will be moments where Gonzalez will come up big based on how the Colts will use him.

Jerome Harrison, RB, Cleveland
Jamey's projection: 193 carries, 765 yards, three touchdowns; 31 catches, 288 yards, two touchdowns, one fumble
Dave's projection: 203 carries, 811 yards, four touchdowns; 33 catches, 217 yards, two touchdowns, two fumbles
Average Draft Position: No. 93 overall, No. 35 running back
Will be drafted in Round: 8
Will play like someone in Round: 5
Harrison helped many Fantasy owners win a championship last season with his incredible three-game stretch to close the year. He took advantage of three poor opponents in Kansas City, Oakland and Jacksonville to run for 561 yards and five touchdowns while getting more than 30 carries in each game. It was the first time he was given a chance as the lead rusher, and he more than lived up to the billing. Including Week 4 against Cincinnati, when Harrison had 29 carries for 121 yards, each time he had at least 20 carries in 2009 he had at least 120 yards. He also proved to be a good receiver out of the backfield with 34 catches for 220 yards and two touchdowns, and we know the Browns need plenty of help in the passing game. This year, Harrison will share carries with Montario Hardesty, but Harrison will be the No. 1 guy. He's motivated to prove last year wasn't a fluke while trying to earn a new contract. That makes him a No. 3 Fantasy option on Draft Day with the chance to be a No. 2 running back before the end of the year.

Chad Henne, QB, Miami
Jamey's projection: 3,603 passing yards, 23 touchdowns, 17 interceptions; 79 rushing yards, three fumbles
Dave's projection: 3,517 passing yards, 21 touchdowns, 15 interceptions; 101 rushing yards, two fumbles
Average Draft Position: No. 125 overall, No. 17 quarterback
Will be drafted in Round: 11
Will play like someone in Round: 8
Kyle Orton isn't considered a good quarterback -- at least from a Fantasy perspective -- but he passed for 3,802 yards, 21 touchdowns and 12 interceptions last year. He finished as the No. 14 Fantasy quarterback in standard leagues at 245 points -- 14 points behind Kurt Warner and 16 points behind Donovan McNabb. The reason for Orton's success was Brandon Marshall, who is now in Miami. That should help Henne post quality stats in his first full year as the starter, and we believe Henne could finish the season as a No. 1 Fantasy quarterback if a few things break his way. He has to improve from last year's stats when he had 2,878 yards, 12 touchdowns and 14 interceptions, but the weapons are there with Marshall, Brian Hartline, Davone Bess and Anthony Fasano, as well as solid running backs in Ronnie Brown and Ricky Williams. Henne should be a No. 2 Fantasy quarterback to target on Draft Day, but he could outperform No. 1 options like Brett Favre, Eli Manning, Matt Ryan and Carson Palmer. The potential is there for Henne to succeed. The addition of Marshall should go a long way in allowing Henne to show off his skills.

Johnny Knox, WR, Chicago
Jamey's projection: 58 catches, 797 yards, six touchdowns
Dave's projection: 49 catches, 655 yards, five touchdowns, one fumble
Average Draft Position: No. 119 overall, No. 39 wide receiver
Will be drafted in Round: 10
Will play like someone in Round: 7
Knox got off to a great start as a rookie last year with three touchdowns in his first five games. He disappeared after that, but this year he could see a huge boost in production. The addition of Mike Martz as the offensive coordinator in Chicago should open the door for big plays in the passing game, and Martz is fond of Knox. He has leaped over Devin Hester and Devin Aromashodu as the wide receiver to target for the Bears this season. We still see Hester and Aromashodu making plenty of plays, but Knox should be great in leagues where receptions count. He had 45 catches for 527 yards and five touchdowns in limited playing time in 2009, but he's expected to start this year. In Martz's system, he could approach 60 catches, 800 yards and six or seven touchdowns. Jay Cutler could lean on Knox the way he leaned on Aromashodu at the end of last season, and we value Knox as a great value with a late-round pick.

Santana Moss, WR, Washington
Jamey's projection: 68 catches, 996 yards, five touchdowns, one fumble
Dave's projection: 62 catches, 789 yards, five touchdowns, two fumbles
Average Draft Position: No. 91 overall, No. 31 wide receiver
Will be drafted in Round: 8
Will play like someone in Round: 6
Moss has spent the majority of his career catching passes from Chad Pennington and Jason Campbell. Now he has a legitimate star quarterback in Donovan McNabb, and that should allow him to play at a high level. The Redskins have few playmakers in the passing game aside from Moss and Chris Cooley, so Moss will see plenty of targets. He had 121 last year but only finished with 70 catches for 902 yards and three touchdowns. With McNabb now under center, those stats are sure to rise. His best season was 2005, his first with the Redskins, when he had 84 catches for 1,483 yards and nine touchdowns. Don't be surprised if Moss has another career year because not only does McNabb need Moss to play well, so does Mike Shanahan. This is the perfect year to target Moss as a No. 4 wide receiver, and he should end up in your starting lineup for several weeks based on his outlook in 2010.

Visanthe Shiancoe, TE, Minnesota
Jamey's projection: 58 catches, 652 yards, eight touchdowns, one fumble
Dave's projection: 64 catches, 680 yards, 10 touchdowns, one fumble
Average Draft Position: No. 102 overall, No. 10 tight end
Will be drafted in Round: 9
Will play like someone in Round: 7
We found Shiancoe going late in drafts even before Sidney Rice went down with a hip injury, but now his value should rise. Shiancoe had 11 touchdowns last year, which was second to Vernon Davis (13), and his 18 touchdowns over the past two seasons are better than Dallas Clark (16), Antonio Gates (16), Tony Gonzalez (16) and Jason Witten (six). Brett Favre has proven in his career that he likes throwing to tight ends, especially in the red zone, going back to his days with Mark Chmura and Bubba Franks. Shiancoe just needs to prove he can be more involved all over the field. But he could be headed in that direction this year. The loss of Rice for possibly eight games will give Shiancoe an increase in targets, and his catches have increased from 27 in 2007 to 42 in 2008 to 56 last year. If those stats increase at the same rate and his yards continue to rise while still finding the end zone on a consistent basis, then we're talking about a Top 5 Fantasy tight end. If you miss on an elite tight end with an early pick, he's the type of player you should target late.

Matthew Stafford, QB, Detroit
Jamey's projection: 3,733 passing yards, 20 touchdowns, 16 interceptions; 82 rushing yards, two fumbles
Dave's projection: 3,413 passing yards, 22 touchdowns, 17 interceptions; 108 rushing yards, two touchdowns, three fumbles
Average Draft Position: No. 132 overall, No. 20 quarterback
Will be drafted in Round: 11
Will play like someone in Round: 9
Stafford's rookie season was limited by injuries, and he only played in 10 games. He also struggled with 13 touchdowns and 20 interceptions, but Stafford is poised for a standout sophomore season. Calvin Johnson is among the best wide receivers in the NFL, and the Lions also gave Stafford additional weapons in Nate Burleson, Tony Scheffler and Jahvid Best. The defense in Detroit is going to struggle, which means the Lions will be playing from behind quite a bit. That should allow Stafford to be throwing a lot on a weekly basis, and his yards and touchdowns should increase. He'll throw his share of interceptions, which you'll unfortunately have to deal with, but he should be considered one of the top backup quarterbacks to target on Draft Day. If he can limit the turnovers and find a way to get Johnson and Co. the ball often, then he could post stats like a starter, meaning you have a steal with a late-round pick.

LaDainian Tomlinson, RB, New York, Jets
Jamey's projection: 180 carries, 735 yards, five touchdowns; 31 catches, 296 yards, two touchdowns, two fumbles
Dave's projection: 165 carries, 671 yards, six touchdowns; 26 catches, 204 yards, one touchdown, one fumble
Average Draft Position: No. 90 overall, No. 33 running back
Will be drafted in Round: 8
Will play like someone in Round: 6
The Tomlinson you remember is gone. He's not the star of the San Diego backfield, but he's now a complementary option for the Jets behind Shonn Greene. That's just fine because Tomlinson will play well in a limited role. And he's someone to target as a No. 3 or 4 Fantasy running back in all leagues. The Jets will use Tomlinson as a third-down back, and he will also help share carries with Greene. The Jets have a tremendous offensive line behind Nick Mangold, D'Brickashaw Ferguson and Damien Woody, and they will open plenty of holes for Tomlinson. And keep in mind that Greene has never been a full-time starter. If he struggles, then Tomlinson will step in and be a quality replacement. He's not going to carry you to a Fantasy championship like he did in previous years, but he can be a spot starter and a flex option. Even at 31, Tomlinson can still have value as a key reserve on your bench.

Cadillac Williams, RB, Tampa Bay
Jamey's projection: 246 carries, 1,018 yards, five touchdowns; 22 catches, 172 yards, one touchdown, two fumbles
Dave's projection: 223 carries, 912 yards, five touchdowns; 25 catches, 186 yards, one touchdown, two fumbles
Average Draft Position: No. 75 overall, No. 29 running back
Will be drafted in Round: 7
Will play like someone in Round: 4
Williams was a surprise in 2009 when he played in 16 games for the first time in his career. Now that he's proven he can stay healthy following a series of knee injuries, he wants to build off last year's performance (1,040 total yards and seven touchdowns) and be considered one of the best running backs in the NFL. "This year, I definitely have a chip on my shoulder," Williams said in an interview with CBSSports.com. "When the elite backs are mentioned, I'm not even in the conversation. I'm going to do everything I can to help us win and just play hard." Williams predicted a 1,400-yard season, and he could reach that goal running behind a solid offensive line. The Buccaneers offense should also improve with Josh Freeman in his second year, and Williams will again get the majority of carries. He's being drafted as a No. 3 Fantasy running back, but Williams will finish as a Top 24 option and show he should be considered "elite."

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Senior Fantasy Writer

Jamey Eisenberg has been a Senior Fantasy Writer for CBS Sports since 2006 with a focus on Fantasy Football. A University of Florida grad (class of '98), Jamey got his start in the newspaper business and... Full Bio

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