Talent + Time = Draft Value (Part 2 of 2)
Posted by funsammy (2008 days ago)
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by Sam Kline, AKA the Human Fantasy Hintbook
Wide receiver is undoubtedly the deepest position of available talent in fantasy football. While there is sometimes only one QB, RB or TE worth targeting on one NFL team, some teams like the Saints, Broncos, Cardinals or Texans have as many as three wideouts one would be proud to have on their roster. If there is one position you can wait on to fill out the rest of your slots at that particular position, it’s wide receiver. You probably couldn’t find a 4000-yard passer or a 1200-yard tailback in the eleventh round of a typical fantasy draft, but you can probably choose from at least a half-dozen 70 reception, 1000-yard receivers at that stage. Don’t get me wrong: the Fitzgeralds, Megatrons and Andre Johnsons will be gone in the first three rounds, but you’d be surprised at the surfeit of talent at wideout that is available towards the end of your draft.
WR - Donnie Avery (StL) – Donnie Football’s ADP stock has taken a hit with a stress-fracture in his left foot. His injury may even keep him out of Week 1, which has rendered him a mere afterthought in many fantasy drafts. Avery has made a speedy recovery, and will likely be Marc Bulger’s #1 target when the Rams begin the regular season. Bulger and Avery were developing a solid rapport last year before Avery hit the proverbial “rookie wall.” Factor in that the Rams are a fairly awful team outside of Stephen Jackson, you can expect a heap of cheapie stats when they’re losing by multiple scores in the second half of most of their games in 2009. If Avery is still available at the end of your draft, he could be a solid WR4 as the season gets underway.
WR - Jerricho Cotchery (NYJ) – With Laveranues Coles gone to Cincinnati, Cotchery becomes the unquestioned top receiving option in the Jets’ passing game. Regardless of who wins the starting QB job for the Jets, Cotchery is a very talented possession receiver with a penchant for acrobatic catches and making clutch plays. His 2008 numbers were down, which can be attributed to newcomer Brett Favre’s learning the Jets’ playbook on the fly. But given that the 2009 starting QB has had more offseason and preseason time to prepare, Cotchery should be properly synced up with his signal caller come Week 1.
WR – Hines Ward (Pit) – Your fellow league mates will probably still have the image of Santonio Holmes’ Super Bowl-winning catch fresh in their minds, and will select Holmes six rounds earlier than Ward. But Hines, who has been a consistent part of the Pittsburgh passing game for most of his entire 10-year career, has declared himself 100% from lingering shoulder and knee injuries headed into this season. He should be happy after signing a $22-million contract, and could be in for another 70-80 catch, 8 TD season as a nice value pick after the tenth or eleventh round.
WR – Donald Driver (GB) – Driver has been a paradigm of consistency in fantasy football the last several years. Since 2002, he has missed only two games, and as he has garnered 1000 receiving yards each year since 2004,he is one of the most reliable possession receivers in the league. Aaron Rogers has proven to be the real deal as Brett Favre’s successor in Titletown, fellow WR Greg Jennings will draw opposing teams’ top cornerback, and Driver should continue to flourish in Green Bay’s West Coast Offense with plenty of short-to-medium passes coming his way. Lastly, you can expect the motivated Driver to play 2009 with a heavy heart as he continues to mourn Alcorn State teammate Steve McNair’s offseason murder.
Tight ends are considered a tertiary concern to most fantasy owners. Tight end is also a position where eighth-round selections can yield production about equal to, if not more than, a “can’t miss” fourth-rounder. If you don’t believe me, just ask anyone who used a third-round pick on Antonio Gates, who accrued a disappointing 60 catches for 704 yards last year. Then look at the number of tight ends who out-performed Gates, in spite of the fact that Gates played all 16 regular season games.
TE – Chris Cooley (Was) – Cooley’s name is rarely mentioned when fans and experts discuss NFL’s elite tight ends. Every fantasy footballer wants a Jason Witten, Antonio Gates, or a Tony Gonzalez as their starting TE, but acquiring a name like one of the aforementioned three will probably cost as much as a third-round pick in some drafts. Coming off a season in which Cooley scored one measly touchdown, Redskins coach Jim Zorn has reportedly promised Cooley that the tight end will find the end zone “at least” six times. The ‘Skins top wideout, Santana Moss is, for the most part, a deep threat, and the lack of a true WR2 in Washington means that Cooley will be QB Jason Campbell’s primary target in the medium-range passing game. Cooley has never missed a game, has shown admirable consistency with flashes of greatness at times during his career, and is still in his prime at 27 years old. Target Cooley around the eighth round after the so-called “elite” TEs are gone.
TE - John Carlson (Sea) – Carlson first appeared on most fantasy radars when he exploded for a 6-catch, 105-yard game on Thanksgiving against the Cowboys. He has demonstrated great catching abilities as well as a profound understanding of the pro game at such a young age, that he can expect more playing time this year, and probably more production. In spite of TJ Houshmanzadeh’s arrival, Seahawk offensive coordinator Greg Knapp runs an offense that heavily involves tight ends, so expect more good things from Carlson in his second season in Seattle.
TE - Zach Miller (Oak) – The Raiders are still, at best, a mediocre team, but given their depth issues at wide receiver coupled with Miller’s productive 56-catch, 778-yard rookie season, expect similar numbers with a few more TDs sprinkled in. The Raider coaching staff could line up Miller in the slot given the lack of available talent at wideout. If Oakland QB1 JaMarcus Russell, who is approaching thin ice in his third year, falters or gets injured, Jeff Garcia would serve as a favorable passer who would benefit Miller and his fantasy owners.
TE – Jeremy Shockey (NO) – Remember him? He’s healthy, he’s established great timing with QB Drew Brees, he’s having a remarkable preseason, he’s out of the Saints’ coaching doghouse, and he’ll have plenty of red zone scoring opportunities in his second season on the offensive juggernaut Saints. Even in an injury-riddled 2008, he still managed 50 catches, and could approach loftier totals akin to his salad days in New York if he can stay off the injury report in 2009.
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