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DraftKings Fantasy Football: Undervalued Injury Bounce-Back Candidates

Joel Bartilotta

Joel has 13-plus years of Fantasy experience, and can recall riding a young Daunte Culpepper to a championship in the 2003-04 season. He covers EPL Soccer, MLB, NBA and Daily Fantasy sports for RotoWire. He's active with EPL, NFL, MLB and NBA fantasy games.

Some of the most undervalued options on the DraftKings are players returning from injury. For this weekís article, we'll focus on players whose values have fallen drastically due to injury. Spotting these forgotten studs can be a great way to carve out value. The amazing thing about fantasy sports and real sports in general is that people have extremely short memories. When a player burns you, itís not uncommon to avoid them altogether in future seasons, opening the door for other owners to use the player at a lower value. One of the keys to DraftKings is to buy a player at his lowest value and plug him into your lineup until his true value is adjusted accordingly. The players focused on below were injured most of last season, which really opens the door to use these forgotten players at a huge discount, while other owners will likely be avoiding them. This first player is someone whose fall from grace is just inconceivable. He was a top-five overall pick two years ago and now is outside most peopleís top-20 in the running back rankings.

Trent Richardson

Richardson dazzled fantasy owners in his rookie season and looked primed to become one of the best running backs in the league. He posted fantastic rookie numbers with 950 yards rushing and 11 touchdowns. He was also a key factor in the passing game recording 51 receptions for 367 yards. The high draft pick out of Alabama looked like he was going to be the savior for the Browns, but that ultimately never came to fruition. Just two games into his sophomore campaign, the Browns made a surprisingly traded Richardson to the Colts for a first-round pick. Once he became a Colt, his production and value dropped off considerably. He finished last yearís campaign with a total of 558 yards rushing, 2.9 yards per carry and three touchdowns. His receiving numbers fell drastically as well, recording only 35 receptions for a respectable 317 yards. Richardson has only missed one game in his two-year career, so most probably donít view him as an injury bounce-back candidate, but he played through multiple injuries last season. Earlier this offseason, reports surfaced that Richardson played most of last season with a chipped collarbone and a separated AC joint. Now, I havenít played football since high school, but Iíd imagine playing running back in the NFL with those ailments is not an easy task, especially with the bruising running style Richardson usually dishes out. When itís all said and done, last season should be an aberration for Richardson rather than the norm. Richardson is primed to have a bounce-back campaign and exceed his value by leaps and bounds. The Colts should be one of the most dynamic offenses in the league with playmakers all over the field (Reggie Wayne, T.Y. Hilton, Hakim Nicks, and Coby Fleener). Even if Richardson doesnít get the yards you expect, he should be receiving nearly all the goal-line touches. While it may seem high, 10 touchdowns should not be out of the question for this bruising back. In the DraftKings PPR format, his receiving work out of the backfield will be an asset as well. With his solid 9.5 yards per catch last year and catching at least two passes in all but one of his last nine games, Richardson looked like a true threat catching the ball out of the backfield. Along with that, his numbers slowly amplified as the season progressed, including his touches.
With the injury to Vick Ballard this offseason, the workload will be split between Richardson and Ahmad Bradshaw, which opens the door for Richardson to get an abundance of touches. Not only has he had this full offseason to recover, but he has had the full offseason to finally learn Indyís complex offense. Remember now, this guy was traded in the middle of the season last year. Unlike baseball and basketball, where you can just pick up the ball and play, in football you have to learn the full playbook, blocking schemes, and get adjusted to the new offense. This is the a primary reason NFL trades are rare in-season. His salary on DraftKings for Week 1 sits at $5,3000, which is ranks him 21st among running backs. Until his salary starts trending upward, heís a solid early-season option.

Jeremy Maclin

Maclin is an easy player to love heading into the season. Heís extremely undervalued ($5,700) and heíll serve as the No. 1 receiver in one of the fastest and most dynamic offenses in the league. The reason Maclin is forgotten is that he simply didnít play a down last season. During training camp last year, Maclin tore his ACL and subsequently missed the entire 2013 campaign. Now that were in 2014, it seems as though the world has forgotten about this very productive wide receiver. He has posted solid numbers in his first four years in the league, averaging 65 receptions, nearly 900 yards, and 6.5 TDs per season. Prior to last seasonís injury, Maclin was fairly durable, missing only five games in that four-year stretch. These numbers were in an offense that is far less dynamic then the current iteration with Chip Kelly and Nick Foles at the helm. Not only has Kelly praised the offseason work and conditioning of Maclin, but Desean Jackson has split for Washington leaving a void for Maclin to fill. Obviously, the Eagles trust that Maclin is 100% healthy if they let their number one wide out leave this offseason. It wouldnít surprise me one bit to see Maclin match the numbers that Jackson put up last season or even exceed them. In most fantasy rankings, he is outside of the top-30 in wide receivers and even outside the top-50 in some expert rankings. DraftKings has him slotted in as the 22nd most expensive receiver. By all reports, Maclin is back to full health, and given his current value, he is a great value on DraftKings.

The author(s) of this article may play in daily fantasy contests including – but not limited to – games that they have provided recommendations or advice on in this article. In the course of playing in these games using their personal accounts, it's possible that they will use players in their lineups or other strategies that differ from the recommendations they have provided above. The recommendations in this article do not necessarily reflect the views of RotoWire. Joel Bartilotta plays in daily fantasy contests using the following accounts: FanDuel: Joelbartilotta DraftKings: Joelbartilotta.