5 Most Underrated Fantasy Football Players
By Guest Writer Ryan Gerrity:
1. Bernard Pierce, Running Back, Baltimore Ravens
Bernard Pierce is being drafted in the 14th round on average in standard fantasy football leagues. The amount that the Ravens trust Pierce in goal line and third down situations alone should be attractive for fantasy owners during the draft. Pierce is a must if you draft Ray Rice in the earlier rounds because he is one of, if not the most valuable back up in the NFL right now. Ray Rice is only 26 and does not miss a lot of time, but last year during the playoffs, Bernard Pierce was very valuable, and showed good promise. I expect Pierce to get more touches this year especially in the red zone.
2. Bengals Defense/Special Teams
The Cincinnati Bengals are ranked between the 7th-9th best fantasy defenses for this upcoming draft. On average, being picked in the 14th round with the Patriots, Steelers, and Packers Defense/Special Teams. What is being overlooked is the potential that this defense has this upcoming year. They have arguably the best defensive tackle in the game, Geno Atkins, who is amidst talks for a contract extension. Rey Maualuga as the middle linebacker who can cover the field sideline to sideline. Leon Hall, Adam “Pacman” Jones, and new addition Terrence Newman are going to be at corner. The “x-factor” and in my personal opinion the best offseason transaction, is James Harrison, ex Steeler joining the Bengals at Linebacker. He looked great in the first preseason game against the Falcons stirring up the Falcons run game. The biggest weakness for the Bengals right now is the safeties, but the potential for turnover margin with this defense is sky high, they could be a top 3 defense for fantasy owners this year.
3. Steven Jackson, Running Back, Atlanta Falcons
Jackson moved from one of the worst offensive lines in football, the Rams, to the Atlanta Falcons this offseason which is a huge improvement. Jackson should not be taking as much of a beating this upcoming year and should stay healthy. I have Steven Jackson in my underrated list because some may think he is too old and beat up. He is being drafted by fantasy owners as early as the 1st round, but as late as the 4th round. Jackson has the ability to catch the ball out of the backfield which makes him a huge PPR league running back and he could be a top 10 running back easily this upcoming year. He was a great running back for a long time on a team that never won more than 8 games, and now he is on a team that was in the NFC Championship last year, I see a huge leap in statistics this year.
4. Aaron Dobson, Wide Receiver, New England Patriots
Dobson is a very interesting rookie this year and is being drafted extremely late, if at all in fantasy drafts. Brandon Lloyd and Wes Welker are not with the Patriots anymore so Tom Brady has to build relationships with new faces like Danny Amendola, rookie Josh Boyce, and Aaron Dobson. Dobson can fill the void that Brandon Lloyd left as being the vertical threat for the team, and being 6’3”, Dobson has the frame to do that. If you are in a deeper 14 or 16 team league, Dobson could become an every week fantasy starter if Tom Brady begins to trust him in the offense.
5. Ronnie Hillman, Running Back, Denver Broncos
It really does amaze me that Ronnie Hillman is being drafted as late at the 15th round in some fantasy drafts. He is 21 years old and is the #1 running back on the first depth chart for the Broncos that was published by the Denver Post on August 4th. Yes the Broncos drafted Montee Ball, who could have double digit touchdowns this year, and they still have Knowshon Moreno which makes the backfield a little more crowded. Hillman may share time with all three running backs, but he has the capability to be very involved in the offense and become a consistent #2 fantasy Running Back.