Below is a list of five of the best and worst values in fantasy drafts based on ESPN’s average draft position (ADP).
Newton started 2012 slow, but still finished as the 4th best quarterback in fantasy football. Newton was the best fantasy quarterback for the second half of the season, so he’s entering 2013 with major momentum. Carolina kept its offense consistent in the offseason, so Newton will already have comfort with his surroundings. Luckily for drafters, most people are more concerned with his postgame demeanor than his on-field statistics.
New head coach Chip Kelly excels in getting the ball in open space to smaller, quick players. This is a perfect match with DeSean Jackson’s explosive play style. Jackson should return to his 2009-10 form where he had back-to-back thousand-yard seasons. Kelly will also most likely get Jackson the ball on designed runs, adding to his fantasy value.
Detroit’s offense features a heavy passing attack. In the offseason, they signed Reggie Bush, one of the best receiving backs in the league. Mikel Leshoure wasn’t especially impressive running in 2012, and Jahvid Best is no longer on the team. Leshoure will get goal line touches and touchdowns, but Bush will get plenty of yards and will be especially productive in PPR leagues.
Starting running backs don’t sign for one-year contracts worth a maximum of $3.5 million. When Arizona signed Rashard Mendenhall, they wanted a proven backup. Mendenhall’s existence could be a great thing for owners that draft Williams. He should be around very late in drafts and will probably finish with the majority of Arizona’s carries. Williams is the future of the position for Arizona.
Allen has a very realistic chance of being the top target on the Chargers offense, even as a rookie. He most likely would have been a first round pick if not for a late-season injury last year. If Rivers bounces back from his abysmal 2012 campaign, Allen becomes a steal. New offensive coordinator Mike McCoy should help. If McCoy can lead Tim Tebow to a playoff win in Denver, he can absolutely get the ball from Rivers to his receivers.
His NFL-Leading 14 TDs last year coupled with the departure of Greg Jennings puts his stock at an all-time high. Despite the high touchdown count, he finished the year with only 784 yards. Counting on red zone targets in fantasy is a risky move. Jordy Nelson finally has his health, and Randall Cobb looks to be set for a breakout year. Nelson and Cobb are both more explosive than Jones, and I expect them to each outperform Jones in fantasy in 2013.
Mike Wallace is still an elite receiver by all means and should be drafted early, but quarterback Ryan Tannehill is still unpolished entering his second year as a pro. Larry Fitzgerald failed to live up to his average draft position last year due to shaky quarterback play with the Cardinals, and I expect the same from Wallace. Tannehill is definitely better than any Cardinals quarterback from last season, but he still threw more interceptions (13) than touchdowns (12).
NFL and fantasy football are completely different games. Flacco proved last postseason that he can be a great quarterback when he needs to be, but he has never proven anything in the fantasy world. His regular season statistics in the past three seasons have been extremely consistent, and he’s losing his top receiver in Anquan Boldin. He was the 14th best fantasy quarterback last season, and 17th the season before, so he should be no more than a backup option in most leagues.
Ridley had a great year in 2012, especially for a New England running back. Since hiring Bill Belichick in 2000, the Patriots have only had one other thousand-yard rusher (Corey Dilon, 2004). Belichick seems to prefer utilizing the talents of multiple running backs rather than relying on a single feature back. He also likes running backs that can catch out of the backfield, such as former player Kevin Faulk. This leads me to believe that Shane Vereen will see a lot more action next year, since Ridley is more of a one-dimensional rusher.
Players who hold out in training camp show a significant drop-off in production the subsequent season. Jones-Drew is also coming off of an injury-plagued season. Combine these red flags with the ultimate red flag of Jacksonville’s inability to move the ball or find the end zone, and it’s pretty clear Jones-Drew no longer warrants a first round pick.