Fake Football, Real Questions (August 22nd Edition)
August 21, 2013 | Staffy Stafferton
In the past few months our “Fake Football, Real Questions” series has focused on helping you make tough decisions between similarly ranked players. Now that the preseason is in full swing, you’re going to see opinions on player value and ADP fluctuate wildly as film is studied, news is leaked, and injuries abound. Staying on top of the latest developments that are impacting the fantasy landscape (and more importantly knowing what to make of them) is a must if you plan on strutting around like a peacock while counting championship cash at the end of the season. Our writers really want to see your best championship strut, and they’re here to help. These are the questions that you need answered before you start slapping stickers on your draft board.
After impressive performances in week 2 of the preseason, the secret is officially out on (former) sleeper TE’s Jordan Cameron and Zach Sudfeld. Have you seen enough to declare both players starters in 12 team leagues?
I’ve been high on Cameron all off-season, so yes, seeing him score two touchdowns in one half was not only impressive but extremely encouraging. I’ve seen enough out of Sudfeld to believe in him if Rob Gronkowski is out for a few weeks, but if I’m choosing one, it’s Cameron all the way. I think Cameron is absolutely a solid TE1 this year, but Sudfeld’s value hinges a lot on Gronk’s health. I don’t think that’s enough to make him a trust worthy TE1.
In the case of Jordan Cameon, absolutely. He’s a special talent in a great fantasy situation. The verdict is still out for me on Sudfeld, however. There are many mouths to feed in New England and I worry that Sudfeld’s fantasy contributions will be sporadic and unpredictable. He’s worth a flyer as a TE2, but most leagues don’t reward drafting multiple tight ends.
I’ve also been a fan of Cameron for a while, but the thing that’s moving him up my ranks in the preseason isn’t his two-touchdown performance in Week 2. It’s how well Brandon Weeden has been throwing the ball through Cleveland’s first two games. I continue to believe that there is a lot of depth at tight end this year, but I would comfortably start the year with Cameron as my starter in 12-team leagues. If we knew Gronk was going to miss significant time, I’d say the same thing about Sudfeld. It’s been nothing but rave reviews for the rookie in camp, and now he’s showing us what he can do in game action. As long as Gronk is out, I think you can start Sudfeld, because Brady and company are going to use their tight ends. But it’s dangerous to plan on Zach being your every-week starter at this point, given the talk that Gronk could be ready sometime in September.
Being a fellow Clevelander makes it very apparent Jordan Cameron has been on my radar. Did I expect this much hype before the season even began? Absolutely not. I am a big fan of Cameron’s ability and the opportunity he has in Cleveland. Brandon Weeden is desperately in need of a security blanket to take the pressure off Josh Gordon, and Cameron is the guy. The position is a bit deeper than previous years, but I wouldn’t complain owning Cameron as my TE1. Sudfeld is a stickier situation because his potential is tied to Gronk’s health. If Gronk ends up on the PUP list then Sudfeld could very well be a solid TE1 option the first half of the season. I would feel much more comfortable stashing Sudfeld on my bench to see if his potential prevails.
Yes on both counts. Norv Turner’s glorious history with TE’s is well documented. You’ve been reading about it all summer, so I won’t bother to regurgitate it here. Suffice it to say what we’ve seen of Cameron this preseason has validated the hype, and the Browns offense as a whole is looking like everything we could have hoped for. I happily scooped Cameron at pick 8.06 of a recent 12 team industry draft (9th TE off the board). I’m convinced he has the opportunity to post a top 5 finish at the position. Interestingly, the 8th TE off the board in that draft (pick 8.01) was Zach Sudfeld. While his path to consistent playing time and targets is not quite as clear as Cameron’s, he possesses the same top 5 upside if everything breaks his way. It’s becoming obvious that Sudfeld will be the primary pass catching TE in one of football’s top offenses for at least the first handful of games. If Gronk comes back healthy in September (and is able to stay on the field), I’m not convinced that Sudfeld’s role will be completely marginalized. The Boston Herald speculates Sudfeld’s receiving skills make him a fit for the Aaron Hernandez flex TE role, which means he can still see the field alongside Gronk. The Sudfeld portion of this question comes down to this for me: Is it better to take a shot at top 5 TE potential, miss terribly, and still have decent streaming options at my disposal in a 12 team league, or draft a guy like Brandon Myers who will likely return his ADP, but nothing more? I’m gambling on the upside in that scenario every last time.
Jordan Cameron is absolutely a Top 12 TE to start the season. Most folks would agree that Graham, Gronk, Gonzalez, Witten and Davis are the Top 5 TEs, but after that things are much less clear. Among TEs outside that top 5, Cameron’s ceiling might be the highest. Between his size, his talent, his coach who has a history of relying on the TE position, and his QB who seems to be making significant preseason strides, there is a lot to like about Cameron as your TE1. I will say that if you do miss on Cameron, Sudfeld is an excellent substitute to open the season. Even when Gronk returns, Sudfeld could remain a solid TE. Consider that last year, Gronk and Aaron Hernandez had the highest and second highest percentage of games played in which they were a Top 12 TE for the week. In 80% of Gronk’s games and in 75% of Hernandez’s games they were Top 12 TEs for the week, tops in the league.
Through two games Michael Vick looks like a great fit for Chip Kelly’s system. Since the preseason started his ADP has moved from the 11th round to the 9th (QB14). Are you convinced Vick is primed to outperform his ADP?
Absolutely, and why not? When healthy in 2012, Vick was still routinely a top-12 option. Going into 2013 drafts, that’s about where I have him now, at 13. I don’t think he’s reliable enough to overtake the Lucks and Wilsons of the fantasy realm, but the guy clearly has been reborn in this up-tempo system. The less he thinks and the more he reacts, the better he’ll be. But with all that said, I’m not sure you can safely put him inside your top-12, as his injury history is still hard to trust.
I’ve been on the Vick bandwagon since the original Fake Football, Real Questions. He’s been my 13th or 14th ranked QB all preseason, but despite his impressive performance so far, I won’t be moving him up my QB ranks unless the guys ahead of him suffer injuries. That’s not to say Vick can’t outperform his ADP and finish better than guys like Tony Romo, Andrew Luck, or even Matt Ryan, but those top-12 options offer a level of security that Vick can’t provide. Still, risk translates to upside in this case. Using a mid-round selection on Vick gives you a potentially valuable trade chip and allows you to exploit in-season QB match-ups.
I think Vick’s ADP is about right, as I have him ranked as my #13 quarterback and the ninth round seems reasonable. I don’t know that I’m “convinced” Vick will outperform this position, but he certainly has the potential to do so in Chip Kelly’s high-octane offense. I’d like to have another quarterback that I’m counting on to be my starter (maybe Luck or Wilson), but with Vick sitting on my bench as a potential lottery ticket.
There is no doubt in my mind Vick is in position to outperform his ADP, but will his health allow it? I’ve already encountered a few instances in the preseason when I cringed as Vick lunged himself into harm’s way. I’m afraid his willingness to scramble on an option and keep himself unprotected is going to cost him some games yet again. I have no problem taking Vick as a high-end QB2. If he can stay healthy we will find him in plenty of starting lineups come fantasy playoff time.
I don’t think anyone can draft Vick, and not draft another QB. His injury history is well known and it’s necessary to have a backup. That being said, if you are waiting until the 9th round to draft a QB, you are very likely entering the QBBC sweepstakes, which means you were already planning to draft multiple QBs. There are two reasons that Vick can be an ideal candidate for this QBBC approach. First, looking at just the 10 games in which he played at least 25% of the snaps, Vick was a Top 10 Fantasy QB. When Vick plays, you are getting a QB1 out of your 9th round pick. Show me better value than that! Second, Vick is playing in an up-tempo offense, behind an improved offensive line which should help limit the number of hits he takes while behind center. Certainly an optimistic view, but if Vick can stay healthy, drafting him in the 9th round could take you from QBBC to legit QB1.
Check out previous editions of Fake Football, Real Questions:
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