Fantasy High 5 is Gridiron Experts group discussion article where the staff add their opinions on popular fantasy football buzzing news stories. This is the second edition since the NFL draft and as we lean closer to the start of the NFL season, articles like the Fantasy High 5 and Mock Draft analysis piece: “You’re on the Clock“, should be more frequent.
Question One: What one fantasy player are you starting to buy into?
Le’Veon Bell has surpassed Montee Ball as the rookie to nab in your fantasy league. Not only does Bell have an intriguing size (230 lbs) and speed (4.5 40 yard dash) combo, he’s got the clearest path to a featured gig of any young runner. Head coach Mike Tomlin has already indicated that the Steelers will be restoring a more run-heavy offense this season and it will start with Bell, a three-down talent that has looked impressive in camp, as both a runner, blocker and receiver.
Maurice Jones-Drew is a guy that I am buying back into. I owned him two years ago and he was a stud. All this talk of Jacksonville being terrible doesn’t bother me, its the foot that I am tilting my head at. I heard that MJD recently said that he is making his cuts and back to 100%. That makes him well worth a second round pick for me. Now if only the Jags can get a passing game going, he could be even more successful.
I was riding the Zac Stacy hype train for a while and I still think he can contribute, but I’m really starting to buy into Daryl Richardson, mainly in PPR leagues. Head coach Jeff Fisher recently said that Richardson will get the first crack at the starting running back job for the Rams. If Richardson can hold off Isaiah Pead and Stacy, I think he’ll be a great value pick in drafts over the next month. His current overall ADP is in the lower 80s right now, but I’d take a chance on him as early as the sixth round in PPR leagues.
Steven Jackson. When he first signed with Atlanta i was kinda meh, but the more I think about it the more I think they will run him into the ground. He is also a sneaky good pass catcher which most people don’t think about. Due to his age and contract/money situation, I think Atlanta will try and get the most they can out of him in this final Super Bowl run with Tony Gonzalez.
Against my own better judgement, I’m being sucked into Chris Johnson again. I have been hearing some good things out of camp, and then he breaks off a 58-yard touchdown run in Tennessee’s opening preseason game. As long as CJ?K doesn’t perform so well in the preseason that his ADP climbs beyond the middle of the second round, I’m starting to like the idea of pairing him with a running back that I took in the top five of the draft.
I really like how things are setting up for Matthew Stafford. It looks like he’s finally got a healthy cast of alternative targets to compliment Megatron. The addition of Reggie Bush is only going to open things up that much more. I think the NFC North is overrated defensively, giving him six games right out of the gate where he can put up some video game numbers.
Question Two: Thoughts on why there is so many injuries this year?
Remember the lockout? They bargained for less contact/ less OTAs less hitting less practice. Harder for guys to stay in game shape when they can’t practice together of under teams supervision. It’s a recipe for an increase in injuries, both severe and minor. The growing popularity of fantasy football means we hear about it from numerous websites, twitter, satellite radio and TV. More injuries and more reporting.
Football is a game of injuries: plain and simple. The injury bug seems to have caught more fantasy relevant players this year, but I don’t think there’s anymore injuries this season than there have been in the past. The big injuries of late are only more reason to push your draft back as late as possible.
I’m not making too much of it. We are probably hearing about the injuries more than we would have even a few years ago. There have been a few more fantasy-relevant guys going down this year, but I don’t know if overall injuries are necessarily up from previous preseasons.
Question Three: Can you name a player that you’re avoiding or who you feel won’t live up to his draft-day value?
One for each position: QB- Andy Dalton was very erratic down the stretch last season and even though the Bengals added some impressive weapons to their offense, it’s hard to expect Dalton to put up those numbers again unless he can show some improvements. RB- Frank Gore– Gore is 30 and has a ton of miles on the tires. There’s a good chance that the Niners will also get LaMichael James and Kendall Hunter more involved in an effort to reduce Gore’s workload so he’ll stay healthy for the playoffs. WR- Mike Wallace– Hard to know how Wallace will adjust to Ryan Tannehill, a big new contract, a new enviroment and an entirely different offense. It’s a lot to expect from a guy who has already seen his stats declining. Wallace is more of a WR3 than WR2. TE- Kyle Rudolph– The Vikings just brought in a lot of new pass catchers and touchdown production can be difficult to predict from season to season. Rudolph had under 500 receiving yards last season and his final fantasy numbers were way to reliant on touchdowns. As soon as teams do a better job containing him in the red zone, he’ll be a subpar starting fantasy tight end.
I am really not a fan of Alfred Morris or DeMarco Murray. Morris’ situation being he isn’t a great pass catcher (I mainly play in PPR leagues), and I will NEVER trust Mike Shanahanigans. Murray is a good player, but its a question of not if, but WHEN does he get hurt? Same could be said for Darren McFadden.
I’m a little weary of Russell Wilson this year. Unlike the other standout rookies from 2012, I’m not sure he has the raw talent to overcome the fact that everyone will see him coming this time around. I think the acquisition and subsequent loss of Percy Harvin threw him for a loop. He’s left with a pedestrian corps of receivers on a run-first team.
I agree with you J.P about Russell Wilson, he is overvalued for me this season. The Seahawks had the highest run to pass ratio in the NFL last season. Wilson’s ADP has come back down to planet earth in the last few weeks (8.02) but even still, a guy like Eli Manning to me seems like a better QB due to his surrounding cast.
Hold on to your hat: Another name I want nothing to do with is Trent Richardson. Crazy right? –I would draft him if he falls in a Keeper league but overall I don’t want him on my fantasy team in 2013. Even with the Ravens and Steelers repairing holes to their roster, the Browns 2013 schedule is extremely tough. Throw in this nagging injury, a new offensive system, a fringe starting QB and yeah…No thanks, you can draft T-Rich. I have a strict fantasy strategy of drafting running backs on teams that will have a 2nd half lead and want to run the ball to drain the clock. Not RB’s on teams that will abandon the run because their trailing. I am not saying he’ll be a bust, I just see a handful of frustrating games in 2013.
I find myself passing on Julio Jones whenever he’s there for the taking as the best available WR (per ADP). It’s not that I don’t think he’s a great player, I just don’t think he’s appropriately valued. He’s currently being drafted towards the end of the second round, ranked fifth among wide receivers. In 2012, he finished ninth among WRs in standard scoring and eleventh in PPR (behind teammate Roddy White). Sure, he’s a big playmaker with a flair for the acrobatic catch, but he’s also a low-volume target that’s been somewhat injury-prone, on a team with a lot of weapons. Julio will have some big weeks, but I expect better consistency and better numbers overall from a few of the guys behind him.
I’m not touching Darren McFadden this year. Like a lot of people, I’ve been fooled before by McFadden’s perceived potential, but at some point, the madness has to stop. He’s consistently being selected in the third round of twelve-team drafts even though he’s never played more than 13 games in a season, is averaging 4.3 yards per carry for his career, and has amassed just 18 touchdowns in 57 NFL games.
I have a whole list of guys I’m avoiding this fantasy season: 5 Fantasy Players I’m Avoiding
Question Four: Has your draft strategy changed now with more Mock Drafts under your belt?
Yes, but that’s just because you can start to predict how things will go when you get enough mocks under your belt. The strategy should ALWAYS remain the same: Be flexible and willing to go against the grain. When members of your league panic, or make errors, you have to be willing to change courses quickly to capitalize on those opportunities. It’s figuring out the blurred line between “never letting other owners dictate what you do on draft day” and “allowing other owners to make mistakes and help pick your squad”.
In the March-June, I was taking 3 running backs to start out every mock draft. I have since realized that I was making a huge mistake. Yes, running backs are a hot commodity this year, but don’t let yourself reach for a running back when there is a way higher value elsewhere. In July and August, I have switched to the mindset of getting at least 2 backs out of my first three picks. This allows me to get higher value in a different area. Like Jody said, you need to be flexible and you need to be comfortable zigging while others are zagging. You will be surprised how much better your draft goes, if you go into them without a set-in-stone kind of plan.
Drag-n-Drop Draft Boards!!
For the most part I have been locked in on the RB/RB/RB strategy, and for the most part i have loved my teams. That said, it is always great to be flexible. If players you are targeting get drafted in front of you, it won’t be as stressful during the draft. I’ve also seemed to move away from drafting Jimmy Graham early and waiting until rounds 4-6 and getting either Gronk, Witten, or Gonzalez.
If anything, I think the mock drafts that I have completed further cemented my draft strategy for 2013. There is a lot of depth at quarterback and tight end. Unless someone like Jimmy Graham or a top-tier QB slides beyond where they should be drafted, my strategy is to get running backs early, mix in a solid WR1 and then continue to take running backs. Everything else can be filled out in the middle-to-late rounds.
The mocks have proved that RBs fly off the shelf early and at first that worried me and I would stockpile RBs. The more mocks I do, the more late round RBs I seem to like. Bernard Pierce, Shane Vereen, Daryl Richardson, Andre Brown, Daniel Thomas, Jacquizz Rodgers and Danny Woodhead are all decent RBs with upside that you can get later on. I also expected to wait on a QB and TE till later rounds since each position is quite deep this year, yet I find myself wanting the elite combos of a Brees and Gronk, or Peyton and Witten. Mocks are a help for sure as they will give you a good general idea of who could go where in your draft. Do as many as you can.
Early on I really embraced the RB-RB strategy, no matter what position I was drafting from. I still do like this strategy, especially with a later pick. The idea of drafting a RB combo like Forte-Jackson in the first and second is extremely appealing to me. The more mock drafts I do, though, the more I realize how much I like drafting an elite receiver like Brandon Marshall or Dez Bryant in the second round, or the consensus No. 1 tight end in Jimmy Graham. Elite running backs are harder to come by in later rounds, but it’s hard for me to pass on a Marshall or Bryant or Graham early in the second. Plus, I can always get someone like Shane Vereen or Giovani Bernard in the fifth round and I’d still have a solid RB1. A lot of my drafting is spur of the moment, too. It’s more fun that way. That’s what fantasy football is all about, anyway.
Question Five: Who is a late round sleeper you have been adding to your team a lot?
Giants WR Reuben Randle. New York’s third receivers get enough playing time and targets to have value, but Hakeem Nicks and Victor Cruz have each struggled to stay healthy, so there’s a very good chance that Randle will get some starts this season. Last year, in his lone start, Randle went off for two touchdowns. Nicks is also a free agent, so there’s a solid chance he won’t be back and Randle will take over as a starter in 2014.
I have been hearing good things about Vikings WR Jarius Wright. This guy is making himself look good up in Minnesota and is supposed to be taking over the Percy Harvin role. If this guy can get anywhere close to Harvin in terms of production, he is well worth a late round pick.
I mentioned St. Louis Rams’ running back Daryl Richardson earlier and he fits this category, but I’ll say Tennessee Titans’ second-year receiver Kendall Wright. He’s the WR I always target in later rounds, mainly in PPR leagues but also in standard leagues. Kenny Britt gets more of the attention in Tennessee’s wide receiver crops, but Wright led the team in targets (104) and receptions (64) as a rookie. With a WR ADP of 48, Kendall Wright is a late round steal.
Patriots rookie tight end Zach Sudfeld. With Gronkowski being hurt and possibly not ready for the start of the season, Sudfeld looks to see some playing time. Jake Ballard, Daniel Fells and Michael Hoomanawanui are all there, but from what I have read none have been any more impressive than Zach Sedfeld. He’s a great dynasty stash and a player to target with the last couple picks in your redraft league, or maybe just a name to know for the waiver wire.
If we are talking truly late-round players, I have consistently been adding Oakland wide receiver Rod Streater near the end of the draft. He led the Raiders in receiving yards over the last half of the season and I expect him to outplay Denarius Moore in 2013. That might not be enough to make him fantasy gold, but Streater should be heavily involved in the passing game on a team that figures to be playing from behind quite a bit this year.
Tyler Eifert. I’ve been holding out until the last few rounds to draft a tight end, which typically leaves me choosing between a more proven TE I can expect to put up mediocre numbers or a young guy with greater upside that runs the risk of being a complete bust. I’m starting to think the latter is worth the play. Eifert seems to be turning heads in camp for Cincy. He’s a difficult match-up for anybody. AJ Green demands significant attention from a defense. Gio Bernard will be an explosive weapon that also demands attention. This should create solid holes for the two Cincy tight ends to exploit. New England demonstrated just how effective the two-tight end attack can be. When choosing between Gresham and Eifert, I think I’d rather have the younger, more athletic miss-match, in Eifert. As the season rolls on, I think Eifert progresses in a big way.