It's that time of year again, where football fans everywhere prepare for fantasy football. Everybody is familiar with the stars, and even the commonly hyped sleepers making the rounds. That being said, I'm going to give you a short list of ten fantasy players that I probably value more than you, and why. One of these guys could help you win your league, and if you whiff on any of them, you won't have to pay much to get them, so you won't lose much. Fantasy success is all about finding value late, and these players may help you with that quest.
Davante Adams, WR, Packers. Adams projects as the #3 WR in the storied Green Bay passing offense, and is in line to see massive amounts of playing time in the event of an injury. He showed tons of promise in college, had a solid rookie season, and could be a guy to target late in your drafts.
Giovanni Bernard, RB, Bengals. Thank you Jeremy Hill! With Hill's solid production as a rookie, everybody is counting out Giovanni Bernard as a fantasy running back in 2015. Don't fall into that trap. While Hill will be the lead back in Cincinnati, Bernard will receive a decent amount of touches each game, enough to keep him fantasy relevant and leave him as a potential #2 running back or even better flex play in most leagues. He's worth even more in PPR leagues, and should outperform his ADP in 2015.
Dwayne Bowe, WR, Browns. Everybody has written Dwayne Bowe off since his move to Cleveland. "He had terrible stats in 2013 and 2014 and now he's moving to a worse QB situation in Cleveland!" Is that really going to be a factor though? Let's take a look:
In 2007, Bowe caught 70 passes for 995 yards and 5 TDs over 16 games, for 62.2 yards per game and 14.2 yards per catch. In 2008, he had 86 catches for 1022 yards and 7 tds over 16 games, at 11.9 yards per catch and 63.9 yards per game. In 2009 (an abberation of sorts due to injuries), he caught 47 balls for 589 yards and 4 TDs, with 53.5 yards per game and 12.5 yards per catch. In 2010, Bowe delivered 72 catches for 1162 yards, 15 TDs, 16.1 yards peer catch and 72.6 yards per game over 16 games. In 2011, 81 catches, 1159 yards, 5 Td, 14.3 yards per catch and 72.4 yards per game. In 2012, 59 catches over 13 games for 801 yards, 13.6 yards per catch, 61.6 yards per game, and 3 TD. In 2013, he caught 57 passes over 15 games for 673 yards and 5 TDs at 11.8 yards per catch and 44.9 yards per game. In 2014, he caught 60 passes for 754 yards and no touchdowns over 15 games at 12.6 yards per catch and 50.3 yards per game.
The 15 touchdowns in 2010 is clearly an anomaly, but so is his yards per catch and yards per game averages over 2013 and 2014. His career average comes in at 13.4 yards per catch and 60.6 yards per game. In 2013, he was at 11.8 yards per catch and 44.9 yards per game. In 2014, he was at 12.6 yards per game and 50.3 yards per game. What changed? The quarterback. From 2007 to 2012, Bowe was forced to catch passes from a committee of backup caliber QBs consisting of Damon Huard, Brodie Croyle, Tyler Thigpen, Matt Cassel, Brady Quinn, Kyle Orton, and Tyler Palko. These quarterbacks aren't much different than the quarterbacks he'll be catching passes from in Cleveland. In 2013, Alex Smith joined the Chiefs, and Bowe's stats plummeted. Was Smith actually the problem? I'm betting on a rebound of sorts for Bowe, and at the price you'll get him, you can too.
Teddy Bridgewater, QB, Vikings. Bridgewater is the best quarterback from the 2014 draft class, and posted numbers consistent with that of a viable fantasy starting quarterback over his last few games last season. With Adrian Peterson coming back and an improved group of WRs around him, Bridgewater is absolutely a value as a #2 quarterback on your fantasy roster, and could put up quality starter numbers at a discounted price if you decide to wait on a quarterback. Highly recommended.
Josh Harper, WR, Raiders. Harper is the type of deep-sleeper prospect that I love to target at the tail end of my drafts. He went undrafted, and as an Oakland WR, he'll probably go undrafted in your league as well. That being said, keep a close eye on him; he was QB Derek Carr's college teammate, and could break out early in his rookie year due to his familiarity with Carr.
Cordarrelle Patterson, WR, Vikings. Remember when Patterson was supposed to be the next best thing leading up to last season? Then he dropped off the fantasy radar following a poor sophomore season in the NFL. That being said, it's not time to give up on Patterson yet. His career is at a crossroads, and he needs to produce this season to ensure a future in the NFL, but Patterson will be available at a discount on draft day in 2015, and is worth a late role of the dice. The upside is there for a good return on investment.
Thomas Rawls, RB, Seahawks. Looking for a handcuff for Lynch? Leaning towards Christine Michael? Think again! Rumor has it that Michael may be on the roster bubble in Seattle, and Pete Carroll has compared Rawls favorably to Marshawn Lynch in a glowing assessment. Rawls has more value in dynasty leagues (where he is a must-own in my opinion) than re-draft leagues, where he's a guy you'll likely target from the waiver wire. Either way, he's worth watching.
Eddie Royal, WR, Bears. Royal is the type of player that everybody is going to forget about on draft day. That being said, he produces touchdowns in bunches, and had his most successful year as a rookie in Denver, catching passes from Jay Cutler. Royal reunites with Cutler in Chicago now, and Chicago's coaching staff has big plans for him. He's never going to be more than a WR3 for your team, but he's a WR3 that can put up extremely solid numbers, especially if he has a good year in Chicago. He's a guy that will be forgotten on draft day, but don't forget about him if you're looking for a lottery pick in your last couple of rounds.
CJ Spiller, RB, Saints. Everybody is focusing on Ingram as the RB to target in New Orleans. I don't like that move, and would prefer to wait a few rounds and make a move for Spiller. Spiller should take over the old Darren Sproles role in the Saints offense, and it wouldn't surprise me to see him catch 70 passes this year. Highly recommended, especially in a PPR league.
Zach Zenner, RB, Lions. Zach Zenner is the type of deep fantasy running back prospect that dreams are made of. Arian Foster and Alfred Morris are two running backs either drafted extremely late (Morris) or who went undrafted (Foster), and proceeded to thrive as every-week fantasy starters. Zach Zenner, the undrafted rookie in Detroit, could be the next great deep sleeper rookie runningback. First, Zenner has a chance to win a starting role in a backfield with no established starter, even though Ameer Abdullah was an early pick in this year's draft and Joique Bell is a solid situational player. Zenner was a stud in college, with a body of work extremely similar to that of Jay Ajayi. Ajayi is getting tons of attention amongst fantasy owners, but Zenner might be the better pick. I know what you're thinking. "But his college stats weren't against top level competition." Wrong. Zenner has produced against top teams as well. Against Kansas in 2012, Zenner rushed for 183 yards on 23 attempts against Kansas. That's 7.96 yards per carry. That included a 99 yard TD. Against Nebraska as a junior, he rushed for 202 yards and 2 TDs on 21 attempts (9.6 ypc). Against Missouri last season, he rushed for 103 yards and a TD on 17 carries (6.1 ypc). He also caught 7 passes for 41 yards that game. He can handle NFL-caliber competition, and may deliver huge results if given an opportunity.
Happy drafting, and thanks for reading!
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