Remember that girl from high school -- she was pretty but a bit awkward?
Maybe she wore glasses, kept her hair pulled back, still had her baby fat. Maybe all three.
One day you're looking at fantasy football magazines in the drugstore, and boom! There she is on the cover of Maxim, rising like a nymph out of water, bursting from a skimpy outfit like the bombshell she's become.
And you're like, "Damn, should have seen that coming. How come I never asked her out?"
Ray Rice inspired similar regrets among fantasy owners last season.
But those who saw the underlying talent, the incredible potential, rode the Ravens running back to championships.
So, who will be the Ray Rice of 2010?
First, let's define our parameters. Rice had an ADP (Average Draft Position) in the 60s last year, meaning he was going in the 6th round of 12-team drafts. He erupted and performed like a first-rounder.
Let's look at runners who I believe will outperform their ADP by at least two rounds. In doing so, we want to look for factors similar to those that surrounded Rice entering 2009, including: Opportunity. Team philosophy. Schedule.1. Pierre Thomas, New Orleans
With an average ADP of 38, Thomas is going way too low, especially in PPR (Point-Per-Reception) leagues. The 5-11, 215-pounder has the same compact frame as Rice (5-8, 212), enabling them to bounce off tacklers.
Thomas will get a heavier workload now that Mike Bell is gone. Reggie Bush hasn't proved he can stay healthy, and even if he does, this is a team that loves to run, despite the public perception. The Saints rushed for 2,106 yards last year, 6th-most in the league. Would it surprise you to know the high-flying Saints called exactly the same number of running plays, 468, as the grind-it-out Ravens?
Thomas is 25, entering his fourth year, with limited tread on his tires. All signs point to a breakout. 2. Felix Jones, Dallas
The third-year back (just like Rice) has an ADP of 51, way too low for this explosive talent. Expect Jones to steal more carries from Marion Barber, with Tashard Choice remaining the No. 3 option. Dallas also plans to throw more screens to Jones so he can operate in space. Doing otherwise would be stupid based on what Jones showed last year: five plays of 40-plus yards, a ridiculous 5.9 yards per carry.
It doesn't hurt that Jones was Jerry Jones' favorite coming out of college -- both played at Arkansas -- and the egotistical owner always wants to look like the smartest guy in the room. In this case, he was right.3. Jahvid Best, Detroit
The rookie has an ADP of 50, but he'll be the lead back on an improved offense, ahead of recovering Kevin Smith (knee) and Maurice Morris. Best will catch a ton of balls and can take it the distance every time he touches it. Best ran a 10.3 in the 100-meter dash as a high school senior, and he clocked a 4.35 forty at the NFL combine.
"Some people watch adult videos on their computer," Lions coach Jim Schwartz famously said. "I go to YouTube and watch Jahvid Best highlight clips. That's what gets me going."