By Adam Harris-
(CBS) So all of your fantasy drafts are over, and you are anxiously waiting for Week 1 to begin. You are either thrilled or “meh” with your teams, but you should always be looking for ways to improve.
You can’t bring yourself to drop anyone, because, right now, everyone you drafted serves a purpose in your mind. You NEED every player on your team for a certain reason, yet you’re itching for some action.
This is where you should put players on watch. Below are a list of players that you should target in free agency, or in trades early in the year that will pay off down the road.
Knowshon Moreno (RB-DEN)
Moreno is currently listed third on the Denver depth chart in the backfield; however, he is number one in Peyton Manning’s heart.
That’s all that matters.
Ronnie Hillman, first on the Denver depth chart, and Monte Ball, second on the depth chart, cannot protect Manning as well as Moreno. This will eventually win Moreno the job in Denver, who averaged 14.5 fantasy points per game (.5 PPR scoring) after taking over the main backfield responsibilities for an injured Ronnie Hillman, from Week 11 on last year.
The word out of Denver says the running back depth chart means nothing heading into the Broncos season, as the three backs will trade off series throughout the games. I imagine the Broncos will ride the hot hand. Moreno gives Manning security by keeping him upright. That’s what matters. Moreno is currently starting in two percent of all Yahoo! fantasy leagues, so either pick him up now, or watch him later.
Josh Gordon (WR – CLE)
Gordon will be suspended for the first two weeks this season for violating the NFL’s Substance Abuse Policy. What a horrible thing he did… right?
This is a fantastic thing for fantasy owners IF you know how to take advantage of it. Gordon’s suspension allows you to draft him in the seventh or eighth rounds instead of the fifth or sixth rounds. Gordon is the number one option for the Browns, who are expected to take a leap offensively this season.
Gordon caught 50 passes for 805 yards (third among rookie WRs) and scored five touchdowns (second among rookie WRs) in his rookie campaign last year. If you have depth at running back, and need a wide out, offer a trade to whomever was smart enough to snag Gordon late. If not, at least watch him.
Justin Blackmon (WR – JAX)
Speaking of suspended rookies… what a segway, eh?
Justin Blackmon is suspended four games by the NFL for violating the league’s substance abuse policy, but the sophomore wide out is worth a look after leading NFL rookie wide outs in catches (64), yards (865) and was second in touchdowns last season with five.
He can be grabbed extremely late in drafts or picked up off the scarp pile right now. He creates depth at the wide out position so when the trade deadline approaches, deals will be made easier. The great upside for Blackmon to fantasy owners is he comes at zero cost right now, with high upside after his four-game suspension. Watch him.
Le’Veon Bell (RB – PITT)
The Lisfranc injury to second-round pick Le’Veon Bell’s foot is improving a lot quicker than originally anticipated, and Bell could be back on the field as early as Week 2. The original diagnosis was Bell could miss as much as six weeks, and possibly the entire season, if the injury required surgery.
Bell told reporters this past week he is hoping for a Week 2 comeback, and even if it is pushed back to Week 3 or 4, he is worth a later pick in the draft. Bell shouldn’t even be watched by someone at this point, he should be acted on, whether it be in a draft, free agency (yeah right) or a trade, Bell needs to be owned in 100% of leagues out there.
“But Adam, his injury is really unpredictable, and the Steelers are starting Isaac Redmon in Week 1,” says a random fantasy fan.
Yes, random fantasy fan, that’s my point. The Steelers are sick of using a running back by committee and want Le’Veon Bell to be the solution. They will give him every chance – when healthy – to prove he is the running back of the future.
Percy Harvin (WR – SEA)
Percy Harvin was going to be a top-rated fantasy wide out this year, until he needed surgery on a torn labrum in his hip. Now he goes undrafted in many drafts across the country, and I don’t understand why.
Harvin had surgery last Tuesday to repair his hip, and was then placed on the PUP (Physically Unable To Perform) list which means he is out at least six weeks. It is doubtful he will play until Week 10 or 11, if that, but he is worth a stash in leagues with deep benches or in keeper leagues.
If he comes back this year, it will be like adding a top-tier wide out for nothing late in the season. He fits all to well in that Seahawks’ offense to be on the free agent list, even if he is hurt.
Just don’t wait too long to snag him. Remember, any day news can break that Harvin is “recovering faster than normal, and is set to return in Week 9.” Take away the chance of it being first come, first serve.
Watch him closely or grab him now.
Roy Helu (RB – WASH)
Alfred Morris owners don’t seem to find the need to handcuff their main running back, and you can be the one to take advantage of it. Owned in 23% of all Yahoo! fantasy leagues, Helu is a fantastic running back to keep an eye on, or stash away in case the unthinkable happens to Alfred Morris.
Helu battled injury last year and is finally healthy. The reason I singled this handcuff back out of all the others is because he is sneaky good. If Morris were to get hurt, Helu would step in without a hiccup, much like Ben Tate (RB) can in Houston if Arian Foster gets injured.
Helu potentially works well in Mike Shanahan’s scheme and would be a top-ten running back if he had the reps. Watch him.
Rob Gronkowski (TE – NE), Aaron Dobson (WR – NE), Shane Vereen (RB – NE)
In case you didn’t know, I am a huge fan of the Patriots in fantasy football this year.
Rob Gronkowski is injured and is absolutely worth stashing. He is most likely not available. Aaron Dobson is second to Kenbrell Thompkins (WR), although is worth a pick late in a draft or a pick up now.
Don’t get “Kevin Ogletreed.” Shane Vereen could prove to be more effective than most third-down backs. Tom Brady trusts him so he will put up numbers.
Julius Thomas (TE – DEN)
Peyton Manning has a basketball player playing tight end, FINALLY. Thomas is owned in 26% of Yahoo! fantasy leagues but is primed to have a breakout week this week. He is worth picking up now or watching very closely to use as future trade bait.
Maybe he will be your number one tight end in the future.
Keep your eyes open and anticipate moves to come. If you have a sense on a player I listed above, or a player that is not in this article, act on it. It sucks to feel regret over not taking action.