WASHINGTON (CBSDC) — In my last fantasy football article, one of the keys I mentioned to a successful Draft Day is focusing on finding value in the mid-to-late rounds. The point in the draft where the majority of your league starts taking the next recognizable name on their list is when leagues are won or lost.
As I previously professed, I am not an expert, I’m just a donk like you trying to win a few bucks off my idiot friends and keep Sundays interesting, even when the Skins lose. While not a pro, I do devour as much info as I can before a draft and I’m happy to share it with you here. Especially because I conned my league into drafting early and I can only act like Dave Richard for two more weeks until everyone on this list tears their ACLs in week one.
Getting older gives you less time to prep for drafts, between diaper changing, soccer practices and tracking how many times your wife has denied your sexual advances,life is pretty packed. In college I am sure you had a pretty sweet Excel spreadsheet with the standard deviation of each player projection plotted out but those days are done. Nowadays you spend $13 on a magazine that was printed in May, and will end up getting scrapped on Draft Day in lieu of an ESPN Top 250 list. What that list won’t tell you is which names should jump out at you.
After a number of mock drafts, and a few real ones, here are the best value picks I recommend at each position. Each player’s Average Draft Position (ADP) is reflected in parenthesis. Keep in mind that you should be thinking of these guys at least a round or two before their ADP.
Matt Ryan (87) – Being overlooked due to a terrible 2013 campaign and confirmation that he is a lifeless drone as seen on this season of HBO’s Hard Knocks. I don’t care that he looks like a default avatar for “white guy” in a video game, nor the fact that wallpaper has more of a personality. What I care about is an improved O-line and the return of Julio Jones and Roddy White.
Andy Dalton (120) – He finished last year as a Top 5 fantasy QB in points. He will not repeat that feat this year but he is certainly more useful than he is being treated.
Jay Cutler (105) – I get it, health is a concern. He makes mistakes, he forces balls, and he looks like a fraternity president who would get expelled for putting cigarettes out on pledges. All that said he slings the rock and he has two of the top seven projected fantasy wide outs at his disposal. Remember when D. Hall picked him off four times in a game? How did Cutler respond in the post-game interview? “If I could I would have thrown at him more.” That is the kind of arrogance I want on my fantasy team!
Carlos Hyde (130) – Is Frank Gore dead yet? Every year that question is asked at fantasy drafts across the country. Shockingly the answer remains “no.” However with Hyde, the 9ers now have a more youthful version of Gore in waiting and they will not hesitate to use him. Kendall Hunter going down for the year vaults Hyde to RB2 status and while I don’t think this is the year of Gore’s fantasy funeral, I do believe that Hyde will be valuable in the second half of the season. Draft him, stash him and wait for Gore to grab an oxygen mask.
Terrence West (134) –Hey it’s an undersized back from a small school running with the second-string in a Kyle Shanahan offense. Where have I seen this before? See Morris, Alfred, 2012.
Bernard Pierce (123) – A terrible human being with tree trunk thighs is still RB1 in Baltimore, and their O-line is putrid, but Pierce gets at least two 20+ touch games to start the season and, at worst, ends up in a timeshare upon Rice’s return. People cite Pierce’s failures last year as evidence that he can’t carry the load but I am willing to spend an 11th round pick for a guy who is guaranteed to start the first two weeks. That’s two weeks of production while other RB by committees around the league sort themselves out and tell me who I should pick up on the waiver wire if I need to dump Pierce.
Terrence Williams (97) – If you are such a high-caliber Skins fan that you do not draft Cowboys, you are so noble, a true loyalist with a warrior spirit. Please play in my league. I am not noble when there is money on the line and Williams is due for a huge year.
Markus Wheaton (139) – I missed out on this guy in every draft. He always went two rounds before I thought he would. He reminds me of Mike Wallace four years ago, and that is not just because he plays in Pittsburgh. Right after you hear someone draft Justin Hunter in your league, queue up Wheaton, a much safer bet than going to Wheaton Plaza, I guarantee it.
Brandin Cooks (121) – The Saints always find a way to use their weapons. They traded up in the 1st round to get Cooks because he is a burner. This completely goes against my policy of shying away from rookie WRs but he is the perfect fit for the Saints system, and they are going to use him like no other WR is going to be used. Cooks will be fun to watch, his helmet barely fits on his tiny head, but he loves the end zone.
Ladarius Green (139) – If you don’t know his name now, you will by week 6. I’ll be shocked if Phillip Rivers takes that long to realize how much more valuable this guy is than Antonio Gates. Gates, thank you for what you have done to the TE position, but please step aside and watch your protégé show you what 6’6” and 4.4 speed looks like.
Jordan Reed (116) – Fortunately the Skins played it safe with Reed in a lost season. Had he continued his torrid pace there is no chance he would be going this low in drafts. Health permitting, Reed will be in for a monster year. While our WR corps is scary-fast, we lack a big WR and Reed will be our go-to in the Red Zone. Go ahead and be a Homer Bailey with Reed, he’s worth the reach.
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