NFL Fantasy Football: What Players Could Be Late Round Gems?
Hopefully, you’ve got a pretty good idea of who you want to draft and in what order. And so does everybody else in your league. The likelihood of getting everybody on your wish list is pretty damned slim. So, who should you take in the garbage rounds that might actually be worth something?
It’s the guys that you pick in the later rounds, like thirteen through sixteen, that’ll usually be the ones that save your bacon and win you a trip to the playoffs. But that late it’s like trying to find a diamond in a coal mine. Sure, it’s possible, but you’ve got a whole lot of coal to dig through to find those diamonds. Where should you start? Here are a few names to keep in mind.
Donald Brown: (ESPN ADP 97.1; NFL.com ADP 112.07) Sure, he’s not a great back, but he’s in the lead right now as the starter since the Colts got rid of Addai. And he’s a good receiver. He might get 40-50 yards rushing in a given week, but he’s also likely to get as many or more yards receiving and those points add up. I can see him being good for 10+ points most weeks combining rushing, receiving and TDs.
Peyton Hillis: (ESPN ADP 86.6; NFL.com ADP 112.8) Sure, it’ll be a time-share with Jamaal Charles. But I think the Chiefs will be this year’s Texans as far as running goes. Bowe just signed his tender and he’s behind. Even then, last year his TD production took a huge nosedive. Baldwin, Breaston and Cassel still haven’t distinguished themselves. Their young TE Moeaki is coming off an ACL tear and Kevin Boss didn’t show much last year with the Raiders. I think the Cheifs run and run and run it. And then throw it to their RBs, too. However, Hillis has been known to get dinged and wear down late in the season. But if he’s sharing the load he might last longer. I think he’ll be Tate in their version of a Foster/Tate Texans-style backfield. Definitely good as a back-up and/or flex and full-on start if they’re resting Charles.
Cedric Benson: (ESPN ADP 105.2; NFL.com ADP 140.73) Yes, the Packers don’t run that much, but not only can Benson run, he can catch. And being the focus of run defenses in the AFC North, he still racked up 1,000 yards a season since he became the starter for the Bengals. Things look good for him.
Toby Gerhart: (ESPN ADP 106.6; NFL.com ADP 122.87) Look, Adrian Peterson being his old self from week one would be a significant medical miracle. I just don’t buy the line that his knee will hold up just nine months from major knee reconstructive surgery once 250 lb linebackers and 300 lb linemen start hitting him and riding him and that knee to the ground. Gerhart is young and did well carrying the load once Peterson went down. And he can both run and catch.
Kevin Smith: (ESPN ADP 117.7; NFL.com ADP 138.87) His health seems to be back and it looks like he’s the only RB in the Lions backfield that’s healthy and/or not in legal trouble. And yes, it’s a passing team but guess who is also pretty good at catching the ball.
Rashad Jennings: (ESPN ADP 139.6; NFL.com ADP 150.35) A bit of a gamble. He’s no MJD, but if MJD is serious about holding out into the season, he’s the Jags top RB on tap. The ball has got to go somewhere. Gabbert sure as hell isn’t going to be winging it every play and live to tell about it
Montario Hardesty: (ESPN ADP 170.0; NFL.com ADP 150.93) Trent Richardson has now had two knee procedures since January plus he plays in a division with some pretty tough run defenses. Hardesty is the first RB in line to take over if Richardson can’t make it back in time to start the season or starts missing playing time because of a sore knee. Hardesty is worth a late round flyer ether as a back-up or situational starter or simply as trade bait for Richardson owners that were too dumb to handcuff him.
Ronnie Brown: (ESPN ADP 148.1; NFL.com ADP 150.69) Ryan Mathews will miss the start of the season with a broken collar bone. Doctors seem to think he’ll be out until October. And over the last couple of years he’s been dinged a lot which is what gave the departed Mike Tolbert his shot at producing once the Chargers let LT go. Brown may not have the burst he used to but he’s big, strong and he’s a good receiver for Rivers, too.
Mike Goodson: (ESPN ADP 149.6; NFL.com ADP 150.76) Did a pretty good job for a short time back two years ago when both DeAngelo Williams and Jonathan Stewart were hurt and now he’s behind Darren McFadden and DMac hasn’t ever played a full 16 game season in his entire NFL career. Never. Last year missed 9 games and he’s missed 3-4 games each of his other 3 years in the league and was slowed and needed to be relieved a lot in other games. At the very least he’ll have trade value with McFadden owners when, not if, D-Mac gets hurt.
Reggie Wayne: (ESPN ADP 104.6; NFL.com ADP 94.83) He’s old and not what he used to be, but the Colts will be behind a lot, you can count on that for a ton of garbage time passing offense productivity. And with Austin Collie missing games with concussions a being pulled in this last preseason game to check for concussion symptoms, Garcon gone, Dallas Clark and Jacob Tamme gone, and Anthony Gonzalez gone, Wayne is Luck’s best, most accomplished receiving option.
(the other) Steve Smith (Rams): (ESPN ADP 170.0; NFL.com ADP 150.67) He’s not great, probably never be physically the same WR he was before his knee surgery 2 years ago, but he’s probably going to be Sam Bradford’s most experienced and polished receiving option.
Mario Manningham: (ESPN ADP 129.8; NFL.com ADP 139.29) People say the 49er receiving corps is too crowded for a WR to have much impact in a run heavy offense. But what I see is an older Randy Moss that may only be in the game for 20-25 plays and likes to take plays off if the ball isn’t coming his way, a Vernon Davis that disappeared last year, and a Michael Crabtree that has never lived up to his hype and first round draft status. Then there’s Manningham who has produced well in a crowded receiver corps with the Giants, who also had a run heavy offense, and has the skills to get open and the desire to show the NFL that the Giants screwed up by letting him go.
Nate Washington: (ESPN ADP 115.3; NFL.com ADP 134.29) Between Kenny Britt’s knee injury and illegal escapades, he’s going to be HasseLocker’s most experienced WR option.
Titus Young: (ESPN ADP 117.0; NFL.com ADP 138.18) Young is poised to become Stafford’s #2 WR over old vet Nate Burleson. As long as he can keep from getting into fights with the DBs on his own team.
Brandon Stokley: (ESPN ADP 170.0; NFL.com ADP 150.62) Yeah, he’s old. And assuming he makes the team he’ll be, at best, the #3 WR on the Broncos behind Thomas and Decker. But Manning has a history and comfort level with him that he has with no one else. In the preseason it looks like Manning’s INTs are more to do with receivers not being where he expects them to be. So, when the games start to count don’t you think he might look for the guy that he’s called the best slot receiver he’s ever played with?
Jacob Tamme: (ESPN ADP 115.7; NFL.com ADP 104.48) Manning likes to throw to his TE and his deep ball isn’t 100% yet, so he’ll look to the TE more so. And Manning is more familiar with Tamme than with Dreesen.
Coby Fleener: (ESPN ADP 138.9; NFL.com ADP 140.85) Luck’s going to be behind and throwing a lot and those two have been playing catch for 4 years at Stanford already
Bent Celek: (ESPN ADP 134.7; NFL.com ADP 141.17) Vick rediscovered him about half way through last season and he started putting up some nice numbers.
Greg Olsen: (ESPN ADP 136.5; NFL.com ADP 146.29) Jeremy Shockey ate into his value last year, but Shockey is gone now and TE belongs all to Olsen this year.
Josh Freeman: (ESPN ADP 119.5; NFL.com ADP 125.79) Sure, he regressed last year, but it was a lockout. This year he has stud free agent WR in Vincent Jackson and a full off-season. Plus, I still like that the kid can make plays with his legs and add rushing yards and scores to his passing totals.
Carson Palmer: (ESPN ADP 135.3; NFL.com ADP 138.15) His lousy totals last year had more to do with rust, injured WRs, and only playing in 10 games instead of 16. But with a full off-season to learn the offense and healthy targets, Palmer should be able to make the most of whatever gas he has left in his tank. He has a shot at being a top 10 fantasy QB.
Ryan Fitzpatrick: (ESPN ADP 138.0 NFL.com ADP 146.99) Sure, he started fast and then cooled off, but the Bills now reveal he was playing most of that cooling-off period with a rib injury. He’s still never going to lead the league in passing, but if he’s healthy he’s definitely worth a back-up slot and can be a starter in your starter’s bye week and also in the right match-up with the right opponent. He may not have a strong arm but he is smart and doesn’t make a ton of mistakes.
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