Becquey: Don't give up on Liriano

"There's always next year," they say. Well, next year is here. We surveyed ESPN's fantasy staff to find out a bit about what they think is in store for fantasy owners in 2010.

Reality Check

Your fondest sports wish for 2010 is:
The Toronto Blue Jays to get back to the playoffs at both the New York Yankees' and the Boston Red Sox's expense. But I'd take a wild-card berth, too.

Why will this happen/not happen?
Remember that massive, back-loaded contract extension Vernon Wells signed three years ago? It really kicks in now. You don't get to the playoffs paying Vernon Wells $21 million a year unless you're the New York Yankees.

Any sport, who is your biggest sleeper pick for 2010?
Whomever the Boston Bruins draft with the first-round pick they acquired from the Toronto Maple Leafs in exchange for Phil Kessel. This is gonna be Tom Kurvers-for-Scott Niedermayer all over again.

Any sport, which player do you fear will let you down, but you feel compelled to keep drafting him anyway?
Francisco Liriano. If he can re-learn when to throw the changeup, he can get right back to being one of the AL's better power pitchers.

Which player has let you down one to many times and is now "dead to you?"
Brian Westbrook. I've only ever owned him for injury-ravaged seasons. Never again.

Let's talk Football

Who will be ...

... The first quarterback drafted in fantasy football leagues? Drew Brees. And it will be the wrong pick.
... The first running back? Chris Johnson. And it will be the wrong pick.
... The first wide receiver? Andre Johnson. And it will be the right pick.
... The first rookie? C.J. Spiller, but that's assuming a lot about what team drafts him.
... The NFL MVP? Aaron Rodgers. Also known as the "right pick" for the first question.
... The fantasy football MVP (most value for draft position)? Michael Vick has the perfect combination of questionability to drop far in drafts and the talent to become a fantasy star once more.
... Fantasy football's leading scorer. Aaron Rodgers, edging out Adrian Peterson, also known as the right answer to the second question.

The Name Game ...
Which player would you rather draft in 2010?

Frank Gore or Ray Rice? Rice.
Terrell Owens or LaDainian Tomlinson? Owens. When the end comes for a running back, it comes hard. I bet T.O. can start at flex or WR2 for at least another year.
DeSean Jackson or Brandon Marshall? DeSean Jackson. At least he shows up every week.
Vernon Davis or Antonio Gates? Gates. He had more yards and touchdowns can be fleeting.
Jay Cutler or Kyle Orton? Cutler. Especially if you can work it so he faces the Lions on your starters' bye week.
Fred Jackson or Jonathan Stewart? You'll be able to start Jackson 16 times and not have to check the injury report every three days.
Knowshon Moreno or Beanie Wells? Moreno.
Shonn Greene or LeSean McCoy? McCoy. Goodbye, Brian Westbrook.
Miles Austin or Roddy White? Roddy White. Longer track record.
Steve Smith or Steve Smith? Carolina's edition. See above.

Playing with Numbers:
Predict the 2010 stat.

Tom Brady's passing touchdowns: 40. He's going home early this month and he and his crew are coming back next season with a gigantic chip on their collective shoulder.
Michael Vick's total touchdowns: 17.
Adrian Peterson's total yards: 2,386. "Anything Chris can do I can do better..."
Chris Johnson's total yards: 1,999. There's always a letdown.
Terrell Owens touchdowns: 9. Never double-digits again.
Brett Favre games played: 2. Both in January.
Kurt Warner games played: 1. Sunday, Jan. 10th.
Matt Forte's average draft position: 25. And he'll outperform it.

Play Ball!

Who will be ...

... The second player taken in fantasy leagues? Hanley Ramirez. And it'll be the right answer.
... The first starting pitcher? Tim Lincecum.
... The first closer? Joe Nathan.
... The second catcher? Victor Martinez.
... The AL MVP? Evan Longoria.
... The NL MVP? Prince Fielder.
... The AL Cy Young? Justin Verlander.
... The NL Cy Young? Johan Santana.
... The AL Rookie of the Year? Brett Wallace.
... The NL Rookie of the Year? Jason Heyward.
... The fantasy baseball MVP (most value for draft position)? The aforementioned Jason Heyward.
... The highest-rated player on Player Rater? Albert Pujols edges out Prince Fielder due to batting average and steals.

The Name Game ...
Which player would you rather draft in 2010?

Hanley Ramirez or Alex Rodriguez? Hanley and it's not even close.
Tim Lincecum or Zack Greinke? Greinke. Because I'm not spending a first-round pick on Lincecum.
Roy Halladay or Chris Carpenter? Carpenter will go later yet can match the numbers.
Ryan Braun or Matt Kemp? Kemp, simply on a gut call that this will be his career season, whereas Braun just had his.

Yovani Gallardo or Josh Johnson? Gallardo.
Prince Fielder or Ryan Howard? Prince.
Adam Lind or Josh Hamilton? Lind is so much safer.
Aaron Hill or Ben Zobrist? Hill.
Evan Longoria or Mark Teixeira? Longoria. MVP.
Mariano Rivera or Jonathan Broxton? Broxton. Someday, Rivera is going to wake up and realize he's old. I don't want him on my roster when that happens.

Playing with Numbers:
Predict the 2010 stat.

Roy Halladay wins: 18.

Cliff Lee wins: 20. He's facing weaker competition in his division and won't have Brad Lidge blowing his leads.
Mark Reynolds home runs and batting average: 35, .245.
Joe Mauer's batting average and home runs: .350 and 25.
Chone Figgins and Ichiro Suzuki's stolen bases: 45 and 29.
Matt Capps saves: 30.
Javier Vazquez wins, ERA and WHIP: 17, 4.00, 1.35 as his HR rate spikes 50 percent from last season.
Stephen Strasburg's wins, ERA and WHIP: 5, 4.75, 1.42. Hey, it's the major leagues. You need all your pitches up here, big boy, and you probably could have used a bit more than just the AFL to work on them last season.
Grady Sizemore's HR/SB:29/24. The eternal tease.
Alfonso Soriano's average draft position: 95. If he's there in the 10th round, it's hard to imagine all 10 owners passing him up.

Mad Gabs

Fill in the blanks to formulate 10 predictions for 2010. Do not limit yourself to football or baseball

In 2010, The Milwaukee Brewers will finally play for a World Series title.
There is no way that Brett Favre will beat the Packers for a third time.
• Aroldis Chapman will be this year's overhyped and ultimately disappointing international free-agent signing.
If France doesn't get out of Group A play at the World Cup then it will be proof that God exists, and he/she is an Irish soccer fan.
Edwin Encarnacion will be the next big sports star to burn his face in a fireworks mishap. Oops, guess I was a little late on that one.
There will be 45 players that record double-digit saves ...
... but only 10 players that get at least 30 as closer-by-committee fever continues to sweep across cost-conscious Major League Baseball.
Matthew Berry will be the death of me.
This is the year that the Kansas City Royals finally climb back to respectability.
2010 will forever be remembered as the year golf ratings plummeted back to pre-Tiger levels.

Have we missed anything?

What question do you wish you had been asked on this survey?
Who will win the Olympic gold medal in hockey?

And the answer is?
Canada. Both of them. In convincing fashion. There hasn't been a hockey team this loaded since the Wayne Gretzky and Mario Lemieux Canada Cup squads of the late '80s and early '90s.

What question are you glad you weren't asked?
Who will win the FIFA World Cup?

Sucker! Now you have to answer.
Spain. And it pains me to say so. Allez les Bleus!