Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Love/Hate Players: 2013

Here it is folks. My master list. Players I love. And players I hate. I do this every year and would recommend that everyone come up with a list of their own for draft preparation. And if you don't? Well, use mine and maybe you'll win four of eight leagues like I did last year. All kidding aside, enjoy this fantasy season and do some damage.

Player denotations:
Player name, position, team (Average Draft Position, My Draft Position): Reasons 
Here are the players that I LOVE:

Matt Stafford, QB, Lions (58.0, 50) VALUE, COMEBACK: Stafford has now put together back-to-back full seasons after being labeled injury prone in his first two. And while Stafford's pass attempts increased last year, every major statistical category got worse. Why? Perhaps mechanics, drops, or Calvin Johnson getting tackled at the one yard line at least five times. Still, he finished tenth among quarterbacks and probably can't be worse than last year. He is well worth a five or sixth rounder (I recently got him in the seventh) and has legitimate top five potential. He represents great value in a deep quarterback class and I expect him to comeback and return to numbers closer to his 2011 season.

Tony Romo, QB, Cowboys (80.4, 66) VALUE, UNDERRATED: Romo has been underrated in fantasy for a long time. Since 2007, he has never thrown less than 26 touchdowns or less than 4,000 yards (besides his injured 2010 season). Like Stafford, Romo brings tremendous value for being the 12th quarterback off the board. He finished eighth last season and for being an eighth round pick, he may be one of the biggest bargains this season. 

Robert Griffin III, QB, Redskins (48.1, 41) VALUE: RGIII would be going higher if there was not so much uncertainty with his injury. He finished in the top five for quarterbacks last year and could easily crack the top five again. While there are injury concerns, getting him 30 picks later than Peyton Manning (who scored the same as RGIII last year), is a great value. If he's there in the fifth round, I'll take him.

Chris Johnson, RB, Titans (24.4, Ahead of Forte, Gore, MJD) VALUE, COMEBACK, TEAM IMPROVEMENTS: CJ2K might finally be back. A vastly improved offensive line and another year of experience for Jake Locker bodes well for Johnson. He's always had big play potential but has a great chance to find some consistency this year. While he may not return close to 2,000 yards, I do expect him to make a comeback and possibly crack the top 10 this year.

Lamar Miller, RB, Dolphins (67.3, 52) VALUE, THE MAN, SLEEPER: Like Bell, Miller figures to be "the man" this year. Daniel Thomas has been uninspiring and Miller brings 4.40 speed to a revamped Miami offense. Assuming Miller does take the majority of carries, I think he has great potential to be a top 15 running back. Keep your eye on him on draft day and pull the trigger before someone else does.

LeSean McCoy, RB, Eagles (12.4, Ahead of Richardson, Morris) TEAM IMPROVEMENTS, COMEBACK: I loved Shady last year but he was underutilized and missed three games. But Chip Kelly's offense will surely use him to the fullest and I expect a big comeback on his part. Hopefully improved quarterback play, a speedy offensive line, and an up-tempo offense will resurrect McCoy. Especially in PPR leagues, McCoy is a fantastic option over the likes of Alfred Morris and Trent Richardson.

Daryl Richardson, RB, Rams (96.9, 75) VALUE, THE MAN: Richardson represents the last starting running back you can get in the draft. But for him to go in the 11th round says a lot about his team and himself. Nonetheless, he brings value as such a late pick especially with Isaiah Pead's suspension and fumbling troubles. Richardson figures to be "the man" and should be snatched up as a solid backup.

Reggie Bush, RB, Lions (45.7, Ahead of McFadden, Ball, Sproles) VALUE, THE MAN, PPR: Detroit running backs Mikel Leshore and Joique Bell caught a combined 86 passes last year. Now in comes Reggie, and I expect him to not only get most of those but to also get most of the carries. Bush is one of the better of the lackluster running backs going in the fourth to fifth round and carries great value in PPR leagues.

Marcel Reece, RB, Raiders (Undrafted, 150): SLEEPER, INJURY-PRONE STARTER, PPR: If McFadden gets hurt this year, which history says will happen at some point, then Reece will figure to be in line for carries. But his real potential is in PPR leagues where last year he compiled 52 catches. And in the three games where he did receive 10 or more carries, he scored a combined 37 points. Not bad.

Randall Cobb, WR, Packers (35.7, Ahead of Welker, Johnson, Jackson) BREAKOUT, PPR: He's my breakout candidate for this year. With favorite Greg Jennings gone Cobb is the guy in Green Bay. He has the potential for 100 catches and the only thing that might stop him is his teammates. James Jones, Jordy Nelson, and even Jermichael Finley will get plenty of targets as well keeping Cobb from being a true number one option. But I'll draft Cobb within the first 10 receiver picks with no hesitation.

Vincent Brown, WR, Chargers (124.9, 115) SLEEPER, OPPORTUNITY: If he stays healthy, Brown could really turn heads. He came into the NFL as a polished, NFL-ready receiver who could run great routes. Unfortunately, injuries have doomed him. But he finally might be ready and now the injury of Danario Alexander has paved way. Keep an eye on his health during the preseason and if he looks healthy, he could develop into a solid number two option.

Dwayne Bowe, WR, Chiefs (56.8, 49) TEAM IMPROVEMENTS, VALUE: Goodbye, Matt Cassel. Hello, Alex Smith. Hello, offensive line. Bowe finally has a decent quarterback and team.

Antonio Brown, WR, Steelers (67.8, 57) UNDERRATED, VALUE, THE MAN, SLEEPER: Brown failed to impress when I thought he would last year. But with Mike Wallace finally out of the picture, it's Brown's time to shine. He's got elusive speed and solid hands and is trusted by Big Ben to get first downs. He's underrated and a great sleeper to target this year.

Torrey Smith, WR, Ravens (69.8, 61) VALUE, THE MAN, BREAKOUT: Assuming Joe Flacco is still Joe Flacco, then Smith will still have inconsistent numbers. But he is Flacco's best option and I expect Smith to breakout this year. He flashed potential with big games against New England and San Diego last year. Let's hope he can do that more often now.

Cecil Shorts, WR, Jaguars (82.6, 75): VALUE, SLEEPER: On a team with such bad quarterback play, it's impressive that he put up nine double digit games. While he is dealing with concussion problems, Shorts is a great sleeper that makes this such a deep wide receiver pool.

T.Y. Hilton, WR, Colts (87.6, 74) VALUE, SLEEPER: Hilton impressed last year with blazing speed and he earned the trust of Andrew Luck. As Reggie Wayne continues to age, Hilton will be relied on more heavily and can improve on his impressive rookie campaign. He is currently listed as the number three receiver. But that folks, will change.

Emmanuel Sanders, WR, Steelers (112.0, 100) SLEEPER: Paired alongside Antonio Brown, Sanders has a chance to finally make some noise. Expect a lot of short passes going his way and solid production as a number three receiver.

Josh Gordon, WR, Browns (119.7, 105): SLEEPER
Greg Little, WR, Browns (155.6, 140): SLEEPER
Jordan Cameron, TE, Browns (129.7, 100) RAW, SLEEPER, TEAM IMPROVEMENTS: All three of the guys should benefit from the scheme change in Cleveland. Brandon Weeden has looked much better compared to last season and Cameron and Gordon have looked fantastic this preseason. Granted, it is preseason, but it's worth noting. And hear this: Cameron has the potential to be the next Jimmy Graham. Maybe it won't be this year as he still has a lot to learn of the game, but he has looked great in the Browns' vertical offense.

Rob Gronkowski, TE, Patriots (45.9, 45) THE MAN (when healthy): Despite missing five games last season, Gronk finished second among tight ends in points. So even if he does miss the first six games, that's mean you can still have the best tight end for the last 10 games. And the fifth ranked tight end and fifteenth ranked tight end really aren't too different so any backup will suffice. He's worth a pick and if he does managed to come back sooner than expected, then you have a steal.

Jermichael Finley, TE, Packers (103.2, 90) OPPORTUNITY: Love might be a little strong of a word for Jermichael Finley. How about just "like moderately more than this continually disappointing bum." With Greg Jennings gone, Finley might finally live up to the hype. His drops have always been a problem but they've always been mental, not physical. Packers' reporter Vic Ketchman says Finley has the best hands on the team and that Finley has zoned in this season and has a new found focus. If Finley finally earns the trust of Rodgers, he will be a steal.

Tim Tebow, QB/FB/TE, Patriots (N/A, Never) MAN CRUSH: I love him. Just not in fantasy. Nor for his real life skill.

Here are the players that I HATE:

Aaron Rodgers, QB, Packers (9.5, 15) DEPTH, TOO HIGH: I love him. He will be a top five quarterback easily. But he is not worth a first round pick. Not with this kind of depth at quarterback and lack of depth at running back.

Drew Brees, Peyton Manning, Tom Brady DEPTH, TOO HIGH: Same issue here. None of these guys are worth where they are going. But if you can get Brees in the third and Manning/Brady in the fourth, that's where you'll find value.

Russell Wilson, QB, Seahawks (61.2, Behind Romo, Luck) INJURIES, DECLINE: With Percy Harvin out for a while, Wilson's value certainly takes a hit. I do not think there will be much improvement over last season and think it's more likely than not that he will finish out of the top 10 for quarterbacks.

Montee Ball, RB, Broncos (43.8, 50) ROOKIE, RB COMPETITION, TOO HIGH: He has done nothing to take hold of the top spot in Denver and is struggling with blitz pickup. Those are bad signs for a team with Peyton Manning. Expect modest production for a guy whose ceiling is that of Joseph Addai's.

Alfred Morris, RB, Redskins (12.0, Behind McCoy) DECLINE: The odds of Morris replicating his phenomenal rookie season are slim. And if Mike Shanahan ever goes back to his old ways of rotating running backs like crazy, then you've got a interesting pick here.

Trent Richardson, RB, Browns (10.2, Behind McCoy) INJURY-PRONE: Cleveland's offense is a major sleeper this year in part of Richardson. But he has been banged up his whole career and could turn into a Brian-Westbrook-like player: Great numbers but not on the field enough. He could be a stud, but he could also crush the playoff hopes of your team.

Packers’ Running Backs: TOO MANY, UNCERTAINTY, NO “THE MAN”: Eddie Lacy is starting to look like "the man" but the situation is a huge unknown. Lacy and DuJuan Harris figure to be most involved but at best they'll split carries. And even James Starks, Johnathan Franklin, or Alex Green could take some carries. Avoid this situation.

Darren McFadden, RB, Raiders (39.0, 48) INJURY-PRONE, INJURY-PRONE, INJURY-PRONE: This is a yearly concern. McFadden has never played more than 13 games in a season. He's like Brian Westbrook but not even as good. Therefore, it is simple. Don't draft him unless he plummets.

DeMarco Murray, RB, Cowboys (46.3, 55) INJURY-PRONE, INJURY-PRONE, INJURY-PRONE: Read about Darren McFadden.

Andre Johnson, WR, Texans (30.4, 37) INJURY-PRONE, AGE, RUN-HEAVY: Johnson rebounded from an off season and put up great numbers in Houston. Unfortunately, he is not getting younger and the Texans remain a run-heavy team. He is the perfect case of a high-risk, high-reward player.

Anquan Boldin, WR, 49ers (79.6, 90) OLD, SLOW, RUN-HEAVY: He is old and, despite a great playoff run, he remains a mediocre fantasy option. He has not topped 1,000 yards or 7 touchdowns over the past three years. In other words, don't count on the young Anquan to show up.

Hakeem Nicks, WR, Giants (55.3, 65) INJURY-PRONE, DEPTH: Nicks' days as a borderline number one receiver could be over. He has never played a whole season and is in a position where there is loads of talent. I'd rather get someone like Shorts or Hilton much later in the draft.

Mike Wallace, WR, Dolphins (48.2, 55) NEW TEAM, UNDERACHIEVER: This pick rides heavily on the progression of Ryan Tannehill. If he improves, then Wallace could put up similar numbers to his prime days. But that's a big if. And no matter how much Tannehill improves, he is no Ben Roethlisberger.

Kyle Rudolph, TE, Vikings (78.2, 100) DECLINE, RUN-HEAVY: Hm. Isn't there that guy who runs the ball a lot on this team.\? Oh yeah, that guy: Adrian Peterson. While Rudolph was a legitimate red zone threat last season, he caught just 53 passes. And 9 of those passes were touchdowns. There's almost no way his touchdown-to-catch ratio will be that high again and a decline in production makes sense.

Stephen Gostowski, K, Patriots (101.2, LAST ROUND) DO PEOPLE EVER LISTEN!?, TOO HIGH: Please, for the love of God, do not. I repeat DO NOT take a kicker this early. 

Seahawks DST (70.2, 100) TOO HIGH: This is far too high for a defense. Enough said. Don't miss out on depth for a defense this early.

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