Gregg Rosenthal: Fantasy Football's most undervalued players in 2009
Kevin Smith, Lions RB
Maybe it's the non-descript name. Or the fact his team didn't win a game last year. For whatever reason, Smith is getting very little attention except when he promises a playoff berth for the Lions. Smith put up RB1 numbers after he took over Detroit's starting job at midseason, and can improve in year two.
Braylon Edwards, Browns WR
Perhaps Edwards wasn't worthy of a top-five receiver pick in 2008 despite coming off a 16-touchdown season. But don't overreact and bury him outside the top 20 just because he drops so many passes. He is still guaranteed a boatload of targets and the Browns should go pass-wacky. The value will be right this year.
Derrick Ward, Bucs RB
Leaving New York is cause for concern, but the strength of Tampa's team is their nasty, young run-blocking offensive line. New coordinator Jeff Jagodzinski has enjoyed success with his zone blocking scheme, and Ward is a complete back who is made for the system. He's being drafted as a RB3, but look for every-week starter production.
Lee Evans, Bills WR
He's a superior receiver to Terrell Owens at this stage, and will get a chance to prove it. Evans is going to love the single coverage that T.O. helps provide.
Zach Miller, Raiders TE
It's absurd how deep the tight end position is. A year ago, we listed Miller as a sleeper and he put up 778 yards as a second-year player. And he's still not taken as a TE1 in most leagues! Five years ago, drafters would have raced to grab a young talent like Miller in the sixth round. Now you can get him in the tenth round or later.
Ben Roethlisberger, Steelers QB
Riding the Big Ben fantasy rollercoaster isn't for the faint of heart, but it's much better to climb on board after a big drop. Super Bowl trophy or not, many fantasy owners were burned by Roethlisberger last year.
Pierre Thomas, Saints RB
What more does this kid have to do to get drafted ahead of Reggie Bush? Another graduate of last year's sleeper list, Thomas is the heavy favorite to lead New Orleans' high-flying offense in carries and rushing touchdowns. A top-three back in the final six weeks of last season, Thomas isn't going in the top-20 now. Unless you use Rotoworld's rankings.
Eddie Royal, Broncos WR
Owners will expect Kyle Orton to destroy everything Mike Shanahan and Jay Cutler built, but Royal is in a position to keep producing. His skills catching short timing routes fit Josh McDaniels' offense perfectly. With Brandon Marshall starting the year on suspension, 100 catches is possible. He's the new Wes Welker.
Chris Wells, Cardinals RB
Good luck trying to stop this bulldozer with seven men in the box while Arizona spreads defenses out. Wells won't catch passes, but he can put up Brandon Jacobs-like numbers with 1,000 yards and double digit scores.
Chad Ochocinco, Bengals WR
For five gloriously insane seasons, Johnson averaged 1,374 receiving yards. Now owners are ready to ignore Ocho at 31 years old because he tanked while playing with Ryan Fitzpatrick. Like Braylon Edwards, this looks like a case of drafters overreacting based on one year. Take the long view.
Tom Brady, Patriots QB
Maybe it's just the industry leagues I play in, but Brady keeps falling to the late third or early fourth round. I'm not usually in favor of taking quarterbacks early, but it's easier to pull off this year with running back and tight end so deep.
Greg Olsen, Bears TE
No one benefits more from Jay Cutler's arrival in Chicago. With a shaky wide receiver crew around him (not to be confused with the seventh floor crew), Olsen will get plenty of targets. Dustin Keller, ready for a second-year leap, is yet another reason why it's easy to wait at tight end this year.
Matt Schaub, Texans QB
Houston has an offense loaded with weapons and Schaub can produce like a top-five quarterback as long as he stays healthy. For the price he's going for, it's worth the risk.
Steve Slaton, Texans RB
Slaton is getting knocked for his slot in the NFL Draft. Just imagine where Darren McFadden would go if he had no competition in the backfield and put up put 1,659 yards and ten touchdowns on a top-five offense. Slaton doesn't need to improve to be worth a mid-first round pick.
Carson Palmer, Bengals QB
If you wait on a quarterback, try to pair two top-15 options together, and then play the matchups. I like to pair a steady option with a boom-or-bust type, and Palmer is the ultimate boom-or-bust. If he can stay healthy, there is still 4,000-yard, top-five upside from this former top-scoring quarterback.