Fake Football, Real Questions (August 6th Edition)
August 5, 2013 | Staffy Stafferton
You signed up for a fantasy football draft. This was supposed to be all about drinking beer and enjoying a night with the boys. The problem is you’ve been on the clock so long that your beer’s gone warm, and your buddies can’t stand the sight of you. You’ve been faced with the seemingly insurmountable task of deciding who to pick from a group of players ranked in the same tier, and you’re paralyzed with mental anguish. We get it…and we’re here to help. This week, we’ve given our writers two groups of players who fall right next to each other in positional rank and ADP. Here are the picks they would make and the logic behind them:
Running Back: Latavius Murray, Daniel Thomas, Mike Goodson, Joique Bell
None of these guys have value that screams out at you, but the pick has to be Bell. He proved to be an effective runner in 2012, and also was a very solid third down receiver. If he can overtake Mikel Leshoure as Reggie Bush’s top backup (and reports suggest he can), then he easily has more value than these other guys. Even if he can’t, Bush’s sketchy injury history leaves the door open for a much bigger role if things break Bell’s way. These other guys aren’t quite as a versatile and badly need the starter to go down to have real value. With the Lions running more of a New Orleans Saints’ approach, all three or their top backs could provide some value.
We are getting really deep here at The Fake Football and that is fine with me. A part of me wants to take Mike Goodson here, but I am really surprised he has not gotten suspended yet for his off season actions. As of right now I’m taking Joique Bell, but my pick could change to Goodson come late August. Bell is the current backup to Reggie Bush in Detroit as Mike Leshoure continues to show up to camp out of shape. Bell has soft hands out of the backfield and can handle carries in between the tackles. I don’t even think Murray and Thomas will win their backup running back spots.
I’m intrigued by rookie Latavius Murray, who the Raiders selected in the sixth round of this year’s draft out of the University of Central Florida. The 6’3”, 230-pound Murray averaged 5.4 yards per carry in his career at UCF and is coming off a 1,106-yard season as a senior. He also has a nose for the end zone, having scored 37 collegiate touchdowns, including 19 scores in 2012 (15 rushing and 4 receiving). It’s just a matter of time before Darren McFadden gets hurt again and last we saw Rashad Jennings, he was rushing for a whopping 2.8 yards per carry in Jacksonville last season. I think there is a real chance that Murray could lead the Raiders in carries in 2013, and fantasy value can be as much about opportunity as anything else.
I don’t feel great about any of these guys and I don’t see a huge upside for any of them either, unless an injury occurs. I have heard zero positive news on Thomas or Goodson, so I’m passing on both of those guys. As we all know, the guy playing ahead of Murray is quite injury prone; however, at this point Murray isn’t the primary backup. Bell made a solid impression last year, but since his skill set is so similar to Reggie Bush’s, it’s still a bit unclear how he will be used. Each of these guys have questions, but Bell would be my choice.
I’ll be sitting out this edition of Fake Football, Real Questions due to an ugly, weekend long binge drinking episode that left me with no sober time to conduct fantasy football research. However, I’d be remiss if I didn’t offer up this tidbit of hard hitting analysis: Guys with awesome names like Latavius Murray become fake football relevant every year (Trung Canidate and Montario Hardesty are nodding slowly). Want to save your waiver priority this year? Take a late round flier on Latavius and get ahead of the curve.
Wide Receiver: Stephen Hill, Markus Wheaton, Robert Woods, Brandon LaFell
I refuse to pick any Jets players not named Chris Ivory and rookies Wheaton and Woods offer upside but don’t have concrete roles by any means. I don’t love LaFell, but he’s put up basically the same production the past two years and still has a little upside. He still has a shot at producing relatively solid WR3 numbers, which is probably better than anything these other three guys can offer in 2013.
If you are drafting one of these receivers then your league is pretty deep. When drafting this late you might as well go with the guy that has the most upside and that player in my opinion is Robert Woods. Reports out of Buffalo are that Woods already looks like a 10 year veteran. He is a very polished receiver coming out of USC and I expect him to win the other starting role opposite of Stevie Johnson. By the way, that tear you just heard was Stevie Johnson’s hamstring. Potential number 1 receiver in an offense this late? Yes, sign me up.
I’m having a hard time making much of a case for any of these guys, but I guess I’ll take a flyer on Brandon LaFell. He set career highs for receptions, receiving yards, and touchdowns a year ago, and while none of those numbers were particularly noteworthy, it appears he is at least moving in the right direction. In five of the team’s last seven games in 2012, LaFell had at least seven targets, and if Carolina uses his size (6’2”, 210 pounds) more on the outside, he would have decent fantasy potential in the Cam Newton-led offense. If nothing else, LaFell seems to be the player in this group with the firmest grip on regular playing time.
I am on board with Adam when he says that this late in the draft you are looking for upside. But I am holding back my opinions on Woods and Wheaton until I see them in the preseason. Reports from Buffalo certainly indicate that Woods is making a good first impression. If he has the same impact when I see him, I may change my mind. But until that happens, I am going with LaFell. Carolina had the opportunity to improve their WR2 position in the offseason, but they only picked up Domenik Hixon and Ted Ginn Jr. I don’t see either of them a threat to Lafell, so I’ll take a late round flyer on the Cam Newton’s WR2.
Check out previous editions of Fake Football, Real Questions: