Whether you drafted, or are part of those select few leagues that have yet to draft, there are a bunch of players who can either be traded for cheap, picked up from the free agent pool, or snatched up late in the draft. I’ll tell you which dark horses and sleepers (Zzzzs) to buy and which busts to sell and avoid. I’ve placed the players according to how much more I value them compared to where, on average, they are being selected in the draft. These predictions rely a lot on gut feelings, but don’t take them lightly.
Carson Palmer (CIN) 101. 7 ADP, 91.7% Drafted: While Palmer is being drafted regularly, he is usually the last QB drafted. He won’t score among the top 5 Fantasy QBs, but he could get close. He’s a far better choice than Jay Cutler (interceptions, receiver issues, and interesting protection schemes), Eli Manning (receiver and running game issues), and Donovan McNabb (serious injury concern) who are all being chosen, on average, before Palmer. With Chad Ochocinco and Terrell Owens as a one-two punch and Andre Caldwell as the third receiver, Palmer should see a resurgence like he did before his knee injury.
Joe Flacco (BAL) 90.4 ADP, 100% Drafted: The Ravens brought in receivers Anquan Boldin, Donte’ Stallworth (broken foot. Will be back after week 8), and just-signed T.J. Houshmandzadeh to greatly strengthen the receiving corps. Boldin is strong and can catch the ball over the middle as well as on the outside. Stallworth, once healthy will help relieve the aging Derrick Mason on the deeper routes. Houshmandzadeh will hopefully get in to run the slot as effectively as he did in Cincinnati. While the Ravens have a strong running game in RB Ray Rice and a great offensive-line in front, Baltimore didn’t wheel and deal for the three receivers for nothing (and don’t forget Rice’s ability to catch out of the backfield). Expect the accurate and good-decision-making Flacco to see more pass attempts, yards, and TDs, propelling, the, on average, 12th chosen fantasy QB to finish the year just behind the top 5 fantasy QBs.
Malcom Floyd (SDG) 92.7 ADP, 97% Drafted: I don’t understand why this guy is going so low. His numbers (% Deep, size, speed, and Catch %) are all right on with Vincent Jackson, who looks to hold out until he is drafted or for the entire season. Floyd has been promoted to #1 on the depth chart and QB Phillip Rivers and Floyd have developed a strong connection. Look for Floyd to build on this and develop into a legitimate #2 or #3 fantasy receiver and jump over the 15 receiver slots that are currently taking other WRs ahead of him.
Mohamed Massaquoi (CLE) 147.7 ADP, 22.3% Owned: Quick question: who made whom, Jake Delhomme or Steve Smith (CAR)? Who knows? Incidentally, Delhomme’s best year (3886 yards passing, 29 TDs, and 15 INTs) was when Smith was out and injured with a broken leg which he suffered in the opening game of the 2004-2005 season. Smith broke into elite-status the very next year. Expect Mohamed Massaquoi, who showed promise during his rookie season, to pleasantly surprise you and put-up points worthy of a fantasy starter.
Mike Williams (TB) 134.0 ADP, 43.6% Owned: Williams is the #1 WR. Both Josh’s like to pass to him. You can snag Williams late. Need I say more? If I do, go back and read Rule #6.
Chris Chambers (KC) N/A ADP, 10.7% Owned: Chambers’ numbers are surprisingly good in Kansas City, both with and without Dwayne Bowe in the mix. Yes, Bowe is the official #1, but Chambers will get plenty of looks. Bowe is a risk at the 52nd pick, whereas Chambers is a steal 8 rounds later.
Laurent Robinson (STL) 139.4 ADP, 33.4% Owned: Sam Bradford looks good enough to give Robinson the catches and yards to be relevant. It’s too bad Donnie Avery went down with a season-ending ACL tear. Hopefully Mark Clayton can step into a starting job and help take away coverage from Robinson. For more reasons, see Rule #6.
Devin Aromashadu (CHI) 126.5 ADP, 99% Drafted: He would be higher on my value board if so many others didn’t think along the same lines. Or if Jay Cutler wasn’t being sacked every other play. Either way, Aroma and Cutler seemed to start a good thing in the last 4 weeks of last season (22 receptions for 282 yards and 2 TDs).
Lee Evans (BUF) 108.2 ADP, 98% Drafted: Seems to alternate between a good year and bad year. Last year was a bad year. Worth a flier if in need of a receiver depth.
Jabar Gafney (DEN) 136.1 ADP, 16.6% Owned: Robinson, Laurent. Don’t draft unless in leagues larger than 12.
Chaz Schilens (OAK) N/A ADP, 20.3% Owned: Schilens has a broken foot and will miss the first two games. With Jason Campbell at the helm and Schilens as #1, Chaz is fantasy relevant. If you want or need depth at WR, use Louis Murphy while Schilens is out and pick Chaz up out of the free agent pool when he returns.
Jay Cutler (CHI) 86.3 ADP, 100% Drafted: Why do people still think Cutler is fantasy worthy? The guy has no proven receivers. No “go-to guys.” He likes to throw the ball. To the other team’s players. Actually, he’s the best at that. And in case you are a Chicago fan, I don’t have any good news for the Bears QB situation, but I do have a funny song.
Tony Romo (DAL) 37.4 ADP, 100% Drafted: Romo doesn’t have the best pass o-line in front of him (ranked 25th by profootballfocus.com), but he does have many talented targets to throw to. I think Romo will end up in the top 10 among fantasy QBs, but just barely. I hate to make judgments based on preseason, but the Cowboys passing game has looked non-existent and out of sorts. With Miles Austin, Jason Witten, and Dez Bryant to throw to, I don’t really know how it can go wrong. Which is why I am advising only a cautionary bust alert.
DeSean Jackson (PHI) 28.5 ADP, 100% Drafted: New quarterback, questionable o-line with the absence of both Andrews’ brothers (Stacy traded to Seattle while Shawn was not re-signed and joined the New York Giants), and Rule #4. History and statistical analysis points towards a decrease in production that is more in line with a pick two to three rounds later.
Larry Fitzgerald (ARI) 16.5 ADP, 100% Drafted: A few weeks ago, I began writing an article on why, this year, I would not touch Larry Fitzgerald with a stick. New Quarterback (Don’t get me wrong, Derek Anderson is good when he’s good. But when he’s bad, he’s atrocious), departure of Anquan Boldin, and a clear transition in the Cardinals’ coaching style from a pass-first to a run-first offense. Worst of all, Fitz is battling a knee strain and has yet to see preseason play. If the knee is not fully healed by the time he returns, don’t be surprised to see him more often than not, on the sideline and not the field.
Don’t worry, I’ll have my Running Back and Tight End busts and sleepers out soon.