3 Players to Steer Clear of on Draft Day

Expectations are too high for Mike Wallace in Miami

Expectations are too high for Mike Wallace in Miami

Anyone who has played fantasy football before has been burned by a draft day “bust.”

There are always players who seem to fall off the face of the earth and make owners cringe when look back on draft day.

Here are three players to avoid if you don’t want any major “busts” on your roster this year.

Greg Jennings, Minnesota (ADP – 95)

Newly acquired Vikings wide receiver Greg Jennings has been slowly sliding down fantasy draft boards during the past few weeks. Jennings has been so busy bad mouthing Aaron Rodgers that he forgot to bring his “A-game” to Minnesota’s training camp.

Jennings is about the only viable fantasy receiver on the team, but we still have know idea how compatible he will be with the shaky Christian Ponder at quarterback.

While being drafted as a starter, Jennings should not be relied on as a starting fantasy wide receiver this year. Minnesota will run, run, and then run some more and Jennings just isn’t the player he once was two or three years ago.

Mike Wallace, Miami (ADP – 75)

Fantasy owners drafting Mike Wallace as a wide receiver #2 this season may be in for a rough year. A feast or famine player who relies solely on the deep ball, Wallace has been very inconsistent during the past two seasons.

In his past 24 games, Wallace has only two 100 yard games and that was with Big Ben throwing him the ball. While Dolphins’ second year quarterback Ryan Tannenhill should improve, there are likely to be growing pains between the young QB and his new star receiver.

Buyer beware when reaching for this former fantasy stud.

Darren McFadden, Oakland (ADP – 39)

Seemingly everyone knows about the injury problems surrounding Raiders running back, Darren McFadden. But each year, McFadden is highly sought after in hopes that this will be the year he breaks out.

More than likely, this just isn’t going to happen. Heading into his sixth year as a pro, McFadden still hasn’t come close to playing a full 16 game schedule. And even when he did play last year, McFadden looked sluggish and a shell of his former Razorback self.

McFadden can no longer should be counted on as a top-20 fantasy running back and anyone who drafts him as such is sure to have a season long headache. Go for cheaper options with more upside at the position with players like Eddie Lacy, Lamar Miller and David Wilson.

3 Players to Steer Clear of on Draft Day

Expectations are too high for Mike Wallace in Miami

Expectations are too high for Mike Wallace in Miami

Anyone who has played fantasy football before has been burned by a draft day “bust.”

There are always players who seem to fall off the face of the earth and make owners cringe when look back on draft day.

Here are three players to avoid if you don’t want any major “busts” on your roster this year.

Greg Jennings, Minnesota (ADP – 95)

Newly acquired Vikings wide receiver Greg Jennings has been slowly sliding down fantasy draft boards during the past few weeks. Jennings has been so busy bad mouthing Aaron Rodgers that he forgot to bring his “A-game” to Minnesota’s training camp.

Jennings is about the only viable fantasy receiver on the team, but we still have know idea how compatible he will be with the shaky Christian Ponder at quarterback.

While being drafted as a starter, Jennings should not be relied on as a starting fantasy wide receiver this year. Minnesota will run, run, and then run some more and Jennings just isn’t the player he once was two or three years ago.

Mike Wallace, Miami (ADP – 75)

Fantasy owners drafting Mike Wallace as a wide receiver #2 this season may be in for a rough year. A feast or famine player who relies solely on the deep ball, Wallace has been very inconsistent during the past two seasons.

In his past 24 games, Wallace has only two 100 yard games and that was with Big Ben throwing him the ball. While Dolphins’ second year quarterback Ryan Tannenhill should improve, there are likely to be growing pains between the young QB and his new star receiver.

Buyer beware when reaching for this former fantasy stud.

Darren McFadden, Oakland (ADP – 39)

Seemingly everyone knows about the injury problems surrounding Raiders running back, Darren McFadden. But each year, McFadden is highly sought after in hopes that this will be the year he breaks out.

More than likely, this just isn’t going to happen. Heading into his sixth year as a pro, McFadden still hasn’t come close to playing a full 16 game schedule. And even when he did play last year, McFadden looked sluggish and a shell of his former Razorback self.

McFadden can no longer should be counted on as a top-20 fantasy running back and anyone who drafts him as such is sure to have a season long headache. Go for cheaper options with more upside at the position with players like Eddie Lacy, Lamar Miller and David Wilson.

Redskins Balk on Naming RGIII Week 1 Starter

Operation Patience on hold for a few more days

Operation Patience on hold for a few more days

Redskins head coach Mike Shanahan has cleared quarterback Robert Griffin III to play week 1, but he has declined to name a definite starter. Dr. James Andrews has claimed that Griffin is healthy enough to play, but Shanahan stated that “There’s a couple concerns that he has. I’ll talk to Robert over the weekend and I’ll let you guys know on Monday.”

After tearing his ACL in a wild-card loss to the Seattle Seahawks in January, Griffin underwent surgery to repair two torn ligaments in his knee. He’s been rehabbing ever since and has been progressing at a faster rate than expected.

Griffin III has been patiently waiting to get back into the action, but Shanahan has refused to let him play in preseason games and has limited his training camp activity.

Dr. Andrews has stated that he doesn’t have any real concerns and Griffin seems pretty optimistic that he will indeed be the starter. RGIII tweeted a picture of himself saluting in his Redskins uniform, entitled “Cleared for takeoff.” It seems as though this long sideshow of Shanahan and Griffin debating on limiting his play is over, at least for now.

It seems pretty foolish to start franchise quarterback Robert Griffin III unless he is 100% healthy. Otherwise, it’s just another chance that he aggravates the injury once again, jeopardizing his NFL career.

Seeing as how the Eagles do not pose much of a challenge at this point in time, Griffin should sit the week out unless there are no questions concerning his health. However, if he does start, Washington’s offensive line must protect RGIII at all costs.

Late Round Tight End: Martellus Bennett or Brandon Myers?

Myers had 79 catches for 806 yards last season

Myers had 79 catches for 806 yards last season

If you don’t plan on using a pick in the first four rounds of your fantasy draft on a tight end, you’re likely missing out on the likes of Jimmy Graham, Rob Gronkowski, Jason Witten, Vernon Davis, and Tony Gonzalez. Two tight ends that have upside and hold huge value in later rounds are Chicago Bears Martellus Bennett and New York Giants Brandon Myers.

Bennett is entering his sixth season in the NFL and first with the Bears. He’s working on building better chemistry with quarterback Jay Cutler. Last season with the Giants, Bennett hauled in 55 receptions for 626 yards and 5 receiving touchdowns.

Bennett didn’t get a look from Cutler during his the first two preseason games. With an ADP (Average Draft Position) of 117, Bennett is likely to be taken in the 10th round of most standard 12 person fantasy drafts.

Myers had a breakout season last year hauling in 79 receptions for 806 yards and 4 touchdowns. Like Bennett, Myers is starting his first season with a new team and has had a very quiet preseason.

With a better quarterback situation in New York, Myers has the ability to put up similar numbers to last season. With an ADP of 111, he will likely go in the beginning of the tenth round of most standard 12 person fantasy drafts.

If you find yourself in the later rounds of your fantasy draft without a tight end, both Martellus Bennett and Brandon Myers are very good options. Myers has a bigger upside and could really make a push to be a top 5 fantasy tight end this season.

Packers Pick Up Running Back Joe McKnight

The Packers signed ex-Jets running back Joe McKnight Friday, one day before the final 53 man roster must be set. Although McKnight will likely be the 3rd string running back behind Eddie Lacy and DuJuan Harris, he will have a prominent role in their special teams.

This is good news for McKnight, but bad news for 4th round draft pick Jonathan Franklin and four-year veteran James Starks. Franklin and Starks will likely be offered practice squad positions or released outright.

Although McKnight has not rushed for more than 200 yards in a season, he’s an extremely valuable special teams threat. In 3 seasons with the New York Jets, he’s had 10 kick returns for more than 40 yards with 2 touchdowns. The Packers have struggled in their special teams last season and signing McKnight is a step in the right direction.

Low Round Running Backs Who Can Still Pack a Fantasy Punch

Fantasy stock is on the rise for Daryl Richardson

Fantasy stock is on the rise for Daryl Richardson

Looking for some late round dynamite your fantasy draft? Here are three running backs that won’t exactly be running off of the fantasy draft board.

Chris Ivory of the New York Jets, Marcel Reece of the Oakland Raiders, and Daryl Richardson of the Saint Louis Rams are great values who can all be picked up in the later rounds of most fantasy drafts. These players are solid starting options in two running back leagues as well as backups in one running back leagues.

Chris Ivory

While Ivory is owned in 100% of ESPN leagues, his ability to contribute to a fantasy team indicates that he should be drafted far higher than he currently is. Ivory has an average draft position of 57 in ESPN drafts, but he has some definite star potential.

Ivory spent last year buried on the Saints depth chart, but has shined when given the chance to play, including two 150-yard-plus rushing games. The well-documented knock against Ivory is his injuries.

Last season over the course of six games, Ivory rushed 40 times for whopping 217 yards which equals a very impressive 5.4 yards per carry. Throughout his 3-year career, Ivory has maintained an average of 5.1 yards per carry. That’s actually better than Adrian Peterson who averages 5.0 YPC for his career.

Now that Ivory is working in Rex Ryan‘s running back friendly system, he has the chance to thrive. With little in the way of competition other than Mike Goodson, who still hasn’t shown up to camp, Ivory figures to be the Jets featured back. Now the big question that nags fantasy owners is, “Can he stay healthy?”

Marcel Reece

While technically listed as a fullback, Marcel Reece is really a running back. At 6’1’’ 255 pounds, Reece runs a 4.5 40 making him a threat both in the trenches and in the open field. Running however, is not even Reece’s main asset, it’s his pass catching ability.

Reece finished third among running back targets last year with 73, making him a great value in PPR leagues. Reece caught 52 of those passes which were good 496 all-purpose yards and this season might be even better. Raiders quarterback Matt Flynn is playing behind one of the league’s worst offensive lines so he’ll be looking Reece’s way on almost every series so he can get rid of the ball with the short pass.

The only player blocking Reece from being the full-time running back is the injury ridden Darren McFadden. On average, McFadden misses 5.8 games per season, so Reece figures to see plenty of reps when McFadden inevitably finds himself on the IR.

Even if McFadden miraculously stays healthy, Reece figures to see plenty of reps at fullback, and even some reps at running back on third down. The combination of all these factors could make Reece a surefire difference maker for your fantasy team.

Daryl Richardson

Rams running back Daryl Richardson spent most of last season running behind 1st stringer Steven Jackson. Now that Jackson is in Atlanta, Richardson figures to start the season as Saint Louis’ top running back.

During the 2012 season, the 23-year old passed the highly touted Isaiah Pead on the depth chart and continued to produce, registering 98 carries for 475 yards.

Richardson’s biggest weakness is his size. At only 5’10’’ 196 pounds, Richardson won’t see much goal line work as exhibited by his zero touchdowns last season. Though he will see some touchdowns this year, don’t count on him to be a 10+ rushing touchdown guy.

However, even if he is outplayed by Pead or rookie Zac Stacy, Richardson will always see plenty of reps on third down given his combination of speed, receiving and blocking ability. This makes Richardson a low risk-high reward player who is at worst is a serviceable backup and at best, is a solid starter in two running back leagues.

Patriots Prepare to Activate Rob Gronkowski

Are the Patriots rushing Gronkowski back into action?

Are the Patriots rushing Gronkowski back into action?

On Thursday it was reported that the New England Patriots MIGHT place tight end Rob Gronkowski on the active 53 man roster by Saturday. It’s possible that the Patriots are activating him not to play Week 1, but to keep him off the PUP list so he’s not ineligible for the first 6 games of the season.

Gronkowski’s spent more time in the operating room than in the locker room during the offseason. The Patriots believe that Gronk might be able to return by late September. Since the stud tight end has been out, the Pats have been looking towards Zach Sudfeld to fill Gronkowski’s spot. In 3 games Sudfeld has caught 6 passes for 90 yards and a touchdown.

Gronkowski is the 25th overall player on the board with an ADP of just under 30. As the number 2 ranked tight end, fantasy owners will see his draft position rise a little after this recent news.

However, taking an injury prone player in the early part of the third round has high risk. Until Gronk’s epic return to the field, owners need to draft a replacement and who better than Zach Sudfeld.

Gronkowski is a touchdown machine and a freak athlete and his upside could spell playoff victories for your fantasy teams. But after five surgeries in such a short period of time, it’s hard to ignore the possibility that he could get reinjured.

The Critical Importance of Fantasy Handcuffs

Ben Tate saved many Arian Foster owners last season.

Ben Tate is one of the top rated handcuffs in the league

With the first game of NFL season just 6 days away, the window for drafting in fantasy football is quickly closing.

One of easiest things you can do to separate yourself from other fantasy owners is making sure you lock in a running back “handcuff.”

A “handcuff,” in fantasy terms, is the backup running back for your fantasy team’s starter. You draft a handcuff at some point after you draft your starting running back. This is done to provide a safety net if your starter goes down with an injury or anything of the sort.

Whenever a starting running back goes down, there’s a universal waiver wire scramble for that player’s backup. If you have that backup in place, you are safe from the league predators who are ready to swoop in and stop your fantasy season in its tracks.

In many cases, the benefits of owning a handcuff can be your saving grace. For example, when Arian Foster missed 3 games in 2011, his backup Ben Tate filled the void very well. During those three games, Tate racked up 327 yards from scrimmage (an average of 109 yards per game), including 2 rushing touchdowns.

Smart fantasy owners with the handcuff were able to survive those critical three weeks while Foster was sidelined, while other owners watched in horror as Tate racked up those numbers for another team.

Stud running backs like these often play for teams that give them a high volume of carries. If the starter goes down with an injury, another (fresher) player gets a shot at their workload and can very well succeed at it. Even average players can rack up decent numbers with a high volume of carries.

For your team’s starting running backs, it’s essential to draft the next guy in line who will get every down carries. Don’t let this pass you by, you don’t want someone else reaping the benefits of your devastating loss.

Injured Andre Brown Insists His Season Isn’t Over

Brown escorted off the field after leg fracture

Brown escorted off the field after leg fracture

Andre Brown calls his left leg fracture a “tiny crack,” and believes he will be able to avoid surgery.

Even the reserved Tom Couglin believes that Brown should be able to return before the end of the season.

However, even a tiny crack in a leg that was broken less than a year ago is cause for serious concern.

Even with the best case scenario, fantasy owners should not expect Brown back any time before the Giants Week 7 home matchup against the Vikings.

Darrius Heyward-Bey Ready to Roll in Indy

Indianapolis Colts wide receiver Darrius Heyward-Bey will start the 2013 season as the number two receiver along side veteran Reggie Wayne.

Colts head coach Chuck Pagano says that the decision to start the former Raiders receiver over T.Y. Hilton was due mostly to Heyward-Bey’s ability to block in the running game.

“You’re never going to just zero in and say, ‘This guy’s going to play outside. This guy’s going to play in the slot.’ I think we can move people around,” Pagano said. “We also have tight ends that we can move outside. That works to our advantage. When we execute, things can work out.”

During the 2012 season with the Raiders, Heyward-Bey pulled in 41 receptions for 606 yards and five touchdowns.

Fantasy owners should expect Heyward-Bey to split time with Hilton, at least for the first few weeks of the season. Consider Heyward-Bey a suitable late-round addition in deeper leagues on draft day.