By Adam Harris-
(CBS) As I grow older, I use knowledge to grow and become a better person; however, I’d rather be the best fantasy owner in the history of the world, and therefore I use my ability to learn from past experiences mostly for fantasy football.
I have packed away so much fantasy knowledge in the many, many leagues I have played in over the many, many years, but this year, a new revelation has come to mind: the first two rounds DO NOT make or break your fantasy season. The fourth, fifth, sixth, all the way down to the 12th can make your fantasy team go from average to excellent.
For example, just last year, many teams, mine included, drafted Darren McFadden and Chris Johnson at the end of the first round into the second round. Both of those running backs did not end up playing on my final roster, but the players I drafted in the sixth and seventh rounds ended up playing key roles. Stevan Ridley (NE) and Alfred Morris (WASH) were major contributors, as Ridley finished on my roster, playing every week except his bye. I traded Morris early on for Frank Gore, who then turned into Marshawn Lynch later in the season.
I have a knack for drafting key players, late in the fantasy draft, that turned out to help my team down the road far more than my first two picks, and I very rarely miss the playoffs.
So the question you are all asking now is, “who are this year’s value picks?” (I don’t like the term sleeper, as I think value pick defines it better)
I have a few players that I would keep my eye on leading up to draft day that will serve as backup QB’s, RB 2’s or WR 3’s.
Last year it was Andrew Luck and Matt Ryan, in 2009 it was Matt Schaub, and this year I am eyeing three quarterbacks that will be available late, but are worth a backup spot.
Andy Dalton (CIN) – Dalton is now in his third year. He threw 27 touchdowns last year, beating his impressive rookie season by seven TD’s. He improved in yardage, completion percentage, and yards per game during his sophomore campaign, and I am only to believe he will keep improving. I believe he will hit the 30 touchdown mark and will come close to the 4,000 yard mark. This is going to be his Matt Ryan of 2012 year and I wouldn’t hesitate to grab him even as your starter.
Michael Vick (PHI) – I know…right?! Just hang with me here, though. Vick and the Eagles have nothing to prove because expectations are in the toilet. Vick has proven in the past to be an amazing fantasy quarterback. In fact, just three years ago was the second best fantasy player in the league, and just two years ago was the 17th best. Vick is worth a flyer as your backup.
Alex Smith (KC) – It’s hard not to feel bad for Alex Smith, who was a spot start QB in many fantasy leagues just last year. Colin Kaepernick happened, and that was the end of Smith in San Francisco, however he has new life in Kansas City. Andy Reid is a fantastic head football coach. Talent surrounds Smith in WR Dwayne Bowe and RB Jamaal Charles. If he is given time, he will find the right guy, creating fantasy offense.
In 2010 I found Arian Foster, last year I found the ones listed above. Let’s see who I can find this year in the running back position.
David Wilson (NYG) – David Wilson is seeing the bulk of the carries so far in the preseason over RB Andre Brown. The Giants have both Wilson and Brown listed as the No. 1 guy on the depth chart, but the Giants WANT Wilson to be the main squeeze. Drafted in the first round of the NFL Draft in 2012, Wilson had an alright rookie season, but is a nice player to have as your slash entering 2013. Target Wilson in rounds three or four, but hopefully you can grab him as late as the fifth.
Stevan Ridley (NE) – “The Riddler” is going to go later than expected in fantasy drafts this year because he does nothing flashy and because he plays on a Belichick team that can change on a whim. Ridley is a solid fantasy player, who ended up 10th in total fantasy points for RB’s, two points behind Trent Richardson (CLE). Ridley isn’t a sexy fantasy player and this will cause him to drop lower than he should. Target him in the fifth or sixth round and tell your friends “I told you so, you suck” in Week 9.
Keep and Eye on – Lamar Miller (MIA), Le’Von Bell (PIT), Eddie Lacy (GB)
Danny Amendola (NE) – Grab Danny Amendola when you can. If, and this is a big IF, Amendola can stay healthy, he projects to be a top-10 fantasy wide receiver, maybe even a top five in PPR leagues. How many times did you pass on Wes Welker over the years in the fourth round, only to be kicking yourself in Week 3 to see Welker leading the league in fantasy points? Don’t let it happen with Amendola. If he is available in the fourth round, take him.
Emmanuel Sanders (PIT) – Todd Haley is back in Pittsburgh, and the Steelers offense is looking to bounce back from last year. Ben Roethlisberger lost one of his favorite weapons, and needs a substitute. Mike Wallace and Sanders are different type receivers, but Roethlisberger needs consistency in the Steeler passing game. He will find it with Sanders, and fantasy owners will find eight to nine catches a game guy. Sanders is worth a later pick for sure.
Lance Moore (NO) – Did you know that Lance Moore ended up with the 20th most fantasy points among wide outs last year? Now you do, and now I hope I opened your eyes to a player who is worth a WR 3 spot on your fantasy team.
**Do not draft a tight end before you have at least one QB, two RB’s, and 2WR’s.**
Martellus Bennett (CHI) – Jay Cutler has been aching for a proper tight end to throw the ball to when in trouble. The Bears addressed that need with Bennett who outscored the likes of Vernon Davis (SF) and Aaron Hernandez last year in fantasy tight ends. This Marc Trestman offense should utilize all offensive weapons, and Bennett should get his share of red zone looks.
Greg Olsen (CAR) – Greg Olsen was the sixth highest scoring tight end last year, scoring four of his five touchdowns after Week 9. That was when Cam Newton decided to play quarterback again. Newton will begin this year like he ended last, and Olsen will be a major beneficiary to that.
Granted these players might miss, but if you keep your eye out for value in this year’s draft, you are sure to strike gold in one of these players I mentioned. That is what makes your fantasy season a success. Do not stress over the first two rounds.
Follow Adam Harris on Twitter @AHarris670 and ask him Fantasy Football questions. Also, listen to the Friday Fantasy Nerd Herd Hour on Friday nights/Saturday mornings with Joe Ostrowski.