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2009 Fantasy Football Sleepers And Busts: Donald Brown, Steven Jackson & Donnie Avery

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Are there really any sleepers or busts in fantasy football anymore?

Bust: RB Steven Jackson, St. Louis Rams

Man, I could have sworn Jackson was thirty years old already, but he will just be 26 when the season begins.  No matter, a RB who has been heavily used and unable to play more the twelve games in either of the past two seasons profiles as a 30-year-old RB.

With just WR Donnie Avery as an obvious receiving target, Jackson will be expected to be a vital part of the receiving game, and many will look at those 90 receptions in 2006 as justification to take SJax in the Top 10.  I am going to shy away thanks to those two consecutive seasons of injuries.   At a position that chews-up and spits out its best by 30, I have no faith that Jackson can stay off the injury carousel.  

With such a high pick, I want more certainty that the player will be penciled in to my starting line-up every week and not one who forces me to land a quality player late in the draft or grab one from the free agent pool. 

Breakout:  WR Donnie Avery, St. Louis Rams

As a rookie, Avery flashed moments of brilliance.  For those lucky enough to start him in Week 8, you got a glimpse of what Avery should be expected to do more frequently as he is the undisputed #1 WR in St. Louis.

I expect the Rams to struggle in 2009, but Avery is set-up to provide the production Torry Holt provided prior to 2008 (90 catches, 1,100 yards) but with the more frequent breakaway pass.  Avery caught just 53 balls, but did so being while completely shut out of three games.  By season's end he was catching 5 or 6 passes a game - just like Holt.  With a year of experience, Avery will be one of a handful of 80-90 reception receivers with 1,000+ yards not taken in top five rounds.

Breakout:  RB Donald Brown, Indianapolis Colts

1st round pick Donald Brown was a workhorse at the University of Connecticut and piled-up more than 2,000 yards rushing despite a passing game that appeared to be working for the opposing team more times than not. (ed;  Tyler Lorenzen in in Jacksonville camp trying out as a TE.)  A smart and disciplined back who waited for his blocks, Brown led the Huskies to an 8-5 record, and a victory in the Independence Bowl.   

RB Joseph Addai could have easily been my RB bust for the same reason Jackson is, but I deferred to the 26-year-old back  that has been much more productive.    Yes, Addai is the same age as Jackson and not nearly accomplished.  Wipeout Addai's  15 TD season in 2007, and no one even considers Addai an elite back. 

With an Addai injury, Brown will be a Top 10 back.  If Colts follow the Tennessee Titans lead and decide to share the backfield workload to keep Addai at full-strength all season, then Brown will be a quality flex.  Either way, expect Brown to be selected as high as the 6th round and reward his owners.