Draft HIM, Not Him (Part II)
August 14, 2013 | Asher Molk
Hello Fake Footballers! I took a recent look at the ADPs on fantasyfootballcalculator.
Draft BERNARD PIERCE at 9.06, not FRED JACKSON at 9.03
We’ll start by dispelling one seemingly common myth: There is no “committee” in Buffalo. CJ Spiller is the starter, and they intend to give him the ball “until he throws up.” This fact moves Fred Jackson into the handcuff category, so we now must compare him to the likes of Ben Tate, Bryce Brown, and of course Bernard Pierce. When searching for handcuffs, the goal is not just to get the backup to an injury-prone or unproven starter. The goal is to get a handcuff that will produce like a high-end RB2 if given the starting job, and Fred Jackson no longer fits that mold. He’s a 32-year-old running back coming off of double knee surgeries who has missed a combined 12 games the past two season. There is no excuse for drafting him before the previously mentioned handcuffs- after all, that’s all Fred Jackson is at this stage in his career.
Of all “handcuffs” available, you could argue Pierce is the most valuable. We KNOW he will have some set role no matter what the health of Ray Rice is- that is one reason some owners are afraid to draft Rice with a top 10 pick. Throw in the fact that Rice will have an even more expanded role as a receiver due to the departure of Anquan Boldin and the injury to Dennis Pitta, and we can draw the conclusion that Pierce will run even more than expected. But if Rice were to succumb to injury? Pierce would immediately be in the RB1 conversation. Pierce should NEVER go after Fred Jackson in fantasy drafts.
Draft CHRIS GIVENS at 10.09, not SIDNEY RICE at 10.08
I wrote about Sam Bradford in Part One of Draft HIM, Not Him and went over everything he has going for him. Near the top of the list is Chris Givens, who rewrote record books last year as a rookie and appears even better this preseason. Why are we so quick to assume that Bradford will have a bigger affinity for Tavon Austin? Just because he’s in the slot? It is too early to tell if they have their chemistry figured out, but we know Bradford and Givens have been on fire together the past few weeks. Bradford is probably going to put up career bests this season, and the gamebreaking Givens is going to be an every-down wide receiver as he takes the step to high-end WR3.
In the other corner we have Sidney Rice, a one-year wonder via Brett Favre and the Vikings. Heads, shoulders, knees (no reports on toe injuries though), etc., Rice has arguably the largest laundry list of previous injuries in the NFL. His ADP is clearly rising because of the Harvin injury, but by all accounts Golden Tate is going to be the main beneficiary in the passing game and deservedly so. Tate is Seattle’s most talented receiver behind Harvin, and will see the lion’s share of Harvin’s leftover targets. In a run-heavy offense, only one wideout is going to produce like a fantasy starter and that is going to be Tate. Rice will have a worthwhile game or two, but good luck predicting them. It’s this simple: Givens is arguably the primary option in a pass-oriented offense. Rice is surely the 2nd option on a team that finished last in pass attempts last season. Take Givens.
Draft JOSH GORDON at 8.11, not STEVE JOHNSON at 8.03
In fantasy football, only one team wins. Thus, you must take risks and reach for the top, not settle for proven mediocrity. Gordon vs. Steve Johnson is a perfect example of this. Gordon is available to take as your last starter or first bench player. Although he is suspended for the first two games, he will be back before your bye weeks kick in. Gordon is among the most (raw) talented receivers in the game, and can be as good as he wants to be. For those concerned with his QB Brandon Weeden, remember that Rob Chudzinski (Cleveland’s new head coach) orchestrated Braylon Edward’s 80/1289/16 season with none other than Derek Anderson at the helm. When he’s in the lineup, consider Gordon a WR2. Sure we are banking on potential, but you must take chances to win your fantasy league. If we are going to bet on something, its going to be talent. Gordon has it in spades.
For the past three seasons, Steve Johnson has been between 76-82 catches and 1073-1004 yards while his touchdown total has regressed each year from 10 to 7 to 6. Ex-Bills coach Chan Gailey made it a point to make Johnson the center of his spread-based offense and passing game, and that was the best Johnson managed. We know that’s his ceiling. Now with Doug Marrone itching to make Spiller the bellcow back in a run-based offense, we know Johnson is not going to get the same opportunities and thus not approach those statistics. Throw in the fact that undeveloped (read: erratic and inaccurate) QB EJ Manuel will be throwing Johnson the ball, and the best Johnson can hope for is to scratch the bottom of the WR3 barrel. Go for the upside, go for the talent, and go for the better situation. Josh Gordon wins those in a landslide.
Draft DUSTIN KELLER at 13.04, not BRANDON PETTIGREW13.08
This is another upside vs. proven mediocrity battle. Pettigrew has finished as the 12th, 11th, and 21st best fantasy tight end in the past three years. We know who he is: a lumbering check-down machine who specializes in gains under 10 yards. He has no run-after-the-catch ability, and is probably going to be 4th in targets on the Lions behind Calvin Johnson, Reggie Bush, and Ryan Broyles. Even on the league’s most pass-heavy team, we can’t have someone in our starting lineup that is playing fourth fiddle on their own team. Reach higher.
Dustin Keller is often forgotten about in fantasy circles as evidenced by his 13th round ADP, but he is an interesting plug-and-play option. A seam-stretching athlete, Keller had two top-9 fantasy finishes in 2010 and 2011 before his season was cut short by injury last year. Keller and Ryan Tannehill showed their chemistry on a bullet-like 22-yard TD in their second preseason game, and will likely rely on Keller while Tannehill and Mike Wallace work on their slow-forming chemistry. Tannehill is a QB on the rise, and his issues with Wallace as well as the talent limitations of Brian Hartline will keep Keller heavily involved and a likely top-10 tight end candidate.