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Talent + Time = Draft Value (Part 1 of 2)
Posted by funsammy (2940 days ago)
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by Sam Kline, AKA the Human Fantasy Hintbook

We all read the same cheat sheets before we acquire our fantasy football teams, and we all discuss the same superstars we’d love to draft in the first three rounds. But just as often as these studs carry our teams throughout the season, it is important to also recognize the benefits of mid-to-late round value picks. Many fantasy football newbies get to the latter stages of their draft, start frantically browsing their lists, and can’t find a name they recognize to fill out their roster. So-called value picks fall into three categories: 1) football players that constitute a value pick were either once-hyped and fell down the depth chart but are now in an improved situation (this situation could be attributed to a change of scenery, changes in surrounding team talent, or a coaching change) , 2) were former studs whose stock dropped after an injury and are now healthy again, or 3) consistent performers tested by the arrival of a new teammate who is competing for their job. In any case, the following is a list of quality NFL footballers whose draft stock is lower during the preseason/draft time than it will be by season’s end:

In most leagues, only the can’t-miss premiere QBs (in this year’s case, Brady and Brees) will get drafted in a typical fantasy league within the first two rounds. Any quarterback besides those two shouldn’t be expected to be taken until at least the third round. It’s not that there is a shortage of QB talent in this year’s pool, but the separation of perceived value in the second tier of QBs is shorter between a Tony Romo and, say, Donovan McNabb. If healthy, Romo and McNabb should put up comparable numbers and have similar value, but McNabb might get snapped up in the fifth round while Romo gets taken in the eighth. My point is, you can probably wait a few rounds on a franchise QB and the value dropoff would be minimal and first concentrate on acquiring a Pro Bowl RB2, WR2, WR3 and TE1.

QB - Carson Palmer (QB – Cin) Although he lost his most productive receiver to free agency, Carson Palmer, who is 100% recovered from elbow trouble after playing only four games last season, is a great candidate for a bounce-back year. Palmer was fantasy royalty a few years ago, but has become an afterthought even though he is still in the prime of his career at age 29. Since the Bengals replaced All-Pro wideout TJ Houshmanzadeh with the very capable Laveraneus Coles, he won’t lose a ton of production given that WR1 Chad Ochocinco looks revitalized. Palmer’s minor ankle sprain should be fine by Week 1, and Palmer has been one of the biggest beneficiaries of cheapie stats in the league the past few years playing for a subpar franchise like the Bengals. You could do a lot worse than use an eighth round pick for what could be a productive 4000-yard season with 20-25 TDs.

QB - Peyton Manning (Ind) - Even as a third-rounder, the elder Manning should be considered a great value pick. When Peyton Manning is your QB1, it’s easier to sleep at night because he never misses a game, and he puts up consistent monster stats. Peyton may not be this year’s trendy, sexy pick that people gush over in the preseason, but statistically speaking, he’s the Alex Rodriguez of fantasy football. Target him as a third-round pick, grab him before he falls to the fourth, and thank me in January.

QB - Matt Schaub (Hou) - While Schaub's ADP has risen in the past month, he will still fly under the radar more so than 2008 postseason heroes Phillip Rivers and Kurt Warner. He had one of the best offensive arsenals from top to bottom, and all 11 members of the Texan offense are returning in 2009. Don't be afraid to reach for Schaub in the fifth round, because he could be the next Drew Brees.

Most fantasy footballers have had the philosophy of drafting RBs early drilled into their heads since they started playing; that unless you’re drafting a Tom Brady or Larry Fitzgerald, you had better pick your RB1 with one of, if not both of your first two picks. If you feel you missed out on truly elite running backs, then target backs who have at least 40 catches, as this mathematically translates to an extra 6-10 TDs, depending on your scoring system. Targeting TJ-Duckett types who may only garner a handful of rushing yards but might score multiple TDs can be a risky proposition if, say, Seattle can’t crack the red zone consistently. Conversely, pass-catching RBs can score points for your team from anywhere on the football field.

RB – Leon Washington (NYJ) – Although the Jets backfield appears crowded with rookie Shonne Greene competing with incumbent starter Thomas Jones, Washington is a unique talent in the vein of Reggie Bush. He is extremely elusive, can return punts and kicks, and finds unusual ways of getting touches. Jets coach Rex Ryan has said that Washington’s role will increase this year, and you can still grab him as a dynamic RB4 in the latter rounds of your draft. If he gets between 200-300 touches and stays healthy, expect Leon’s best statistical season to date. The Jets aren’t paying him a reported $4-5 million per year so he can serve as a decoy, and he’ll be needed as a safety valve for the young Jet QBs when they’re facing a heavy pass rush.

RB - Brandon Jacobs (NYG) - Jacobs has proven he can be a touchdown machine, has shown improved hands in training camp, and the Giants figure to base more of its offensive attack around the run after lost Pro Bowl wideout Plaxico Burress. Ahmad Bradshaw will take most of the load left by Derrick Ward, but he’ll also keep Jacobs fresh. As Jacobs has averaged only 211 carries each of the last two seasons, he still has low miles on the engine. If he duplicates his 15 TD season with more receptions than a year ago, he becomes a mid-first round pick. You can probably get him in the early-to-mid second round this year.

RB - LaDainian Tomlinson (SD) - LaDainian may not quite be at the peak of his prime anymore, but he’s still a first-round pick capable of 1700 combined yards, 14 TD, and 50 catches. This could be a huge year for San Diego, as they are one of the most balanced teams in football. As Phillip Rivers has established himself and the Charger passing game, opposing defenses won’t key on LT like they did earlier in his career. If, for any reason, Tomlinson slips out of the first round, grab him, as he is 100% healthy.

RB - Reggie Bush (NO) - After his reputation took a beating when people realized he wasn’t going to be the same NFL wunderkind that he was in college, many people have written Bush off. When the Saints’ offense isn’t clicking at certain times, QB Drew Brees tends to just dump the ball to Bush, and watch him create yards with his explosive burst and dynamic ability. He won’t get 300 carries like other second round picks, but he can score 10 TDs with 80 catches and over 1000 combined yards if he plays a Westbrook-esque full season (in other words, fully expect him to miss 1-2 games). If Bush is available in the latter stages of the third round, grab him, as he seems to be fully recovered from offseason knee surgery.

WR's and TE's in Part 2

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