This is the end of this season’s “Should You Draft Him?” articles. Before I get to it, I just want to take a second to thank Tony Holm and the entire Fantasy Sharks crew for making me the newest staff writer. He is a consummate professional who is committed to respecting his writers by treating them like employees, and not saps from which he can get free content. Props.
True story: I was talking to my bartender father last night and he had a customer known for being obsessed with statistics and fantasy sports in general. My dad casually asked him if he’s ever heard of Fantasy Sharks. His response was, “Are you kidding? That site is like a Bible for me!” When my dad told him that I was hired there, the guy absolutely geeked out. Point is, it’s humbling and awesome to do this. I’ve liked writing this preseason material, and I’ll try not to screw up my weekly in-season work.
Blech. I feel like I need a good three full rolls of toilet paper to clean my nasal vicinity. Let’s talk about why you’re here: the NFC West. It’s redundant to say this about seemingly every division, but it’s not any less true: there’s a ton of upheaval going on. The Seattle Seahawks got Percy Harvin and quickly lost him. The San Francisco 49ers lost their No. 1 receiver but gained a steady vet coming off a historically great postseason, and their plan to basically use Vernon Davis as a wide receiver is intriguing, to say the least. The St. Louis Rams have a competition for the starting running back job, a gig that’s been held by a Hall of Famer for 14 seasons straight. The Arizona Cardinals have a new coach, new starting running back and a new quarterback who will completely transform the fantasy fortunes of his team by virtue of being vaguely capable of playing professional football.
The majority of America might not notice because of an abundance of 4:15 p.m. start times and Dallas Cowboys games absolutely hogging FOX’s late game coverage maps, but this is going to be a hell of a fight for the division. The offensive arms race and subsequent dismantling of the two frontrunners has them on pretty equal footing. Then you’ve got the Rams, a legitimate dark horse candidate that went 2-1-1 against their more highly regarded division rivals last season. The Cardinals had a miserable 1-5 division record and are very unlikely to contend for much of anything, but three teams make for quality real-life drama, and all four are packed with intriguing fantasy options. So for the last time in 2013: Should you draft him?
(ADP = Average Draft Position. It’s based on present data from 12-team standard scoring drafts. Team defense is largely irrelevant in standard leagues and kickers are kickers, so I won’t profile them.)
Russell Wilson (ADP: Early Round 8):
There’s a general trend of drafters overreacting to Percy Harvin’s injury. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a huge deal, but it’s dropped key Seahawks players way too far. Case in point; Wilson, who is going as the 12th quarterback off boards. Last year he was the 11th-highest scoring quarterback without Harvin, and with a year of experience under his belt it’s reasonable to expect improvement. If Seattle had never signed Harvin, there would have never been an injury to overreact to, and Wilson would be going two full rounds earlier. If you’re waiting on quarterbacks this season he’s a great choice.
Marshawn Lynch (ADP: 6th Overall):
He’s more of a turn of the snake draft pick in points per reception leagues, but he’s a no-brainer in Round 1 of standard leagues. I’m not remotely concerned about a hypothetical suspension for the DUI arrest more than a year ago. He’s only missed one game due to injury as a Seahawk, he’s 27, he runs harder than anybody, his team runs ridiculously often, and last year’s nearly 1,600 rushing yards dispels any notion that getting paid would lessen his motivation.
Christine Michael (ADP: Early Round 14):
I don’t view Lynch as a significant injury risk, but he gets so many carries, and he runs like he’s wearing a Battle Royale collar that will explode if he doesn’t get one more yard. He should be handcuffed, and Michael looks like a more talented rusher than Robert Turbin and a better bet to make a fantasy impact if something happens to Lynch.
Sidney Rice (ADP: Late Round 10):
The only reason to believe he’ll turn the clock back to 2009 is wishful thinking. That’s OK. He has a stud fantasy season on his resume, he’ll only be 27 this season, and he’ll be the primary downfield threat to a good and accurate quarterback. His body probably won’t allow him to be a top 15 fantasy receiver again, but all of those things I listed easily justify his status as the 46th receiver off the board.
Zach Miller (ADP: Undrafted):
He had a couple of nice seasons in Oakland, and he ended last year with eight grabs for 142 yards and a touchdown in the playoff loss to the Atlanta Falcons. If Coby Fleener is getting drafted, Zach Miller deserves some late-round consideration too.
Do Not Draft
Golden Tate (Early Round 9):
Harvin’s absence shot him up way too far. In his third season he had 664 yards and six touchdowns. (The official stat sheet says 688 yards and seven touchdowns, but there’s a certain 24-yard touchdown I’ve decided not to count.) His ratio of receptions to targets is phenomenal and shows that he has fantastic hands. He could be a top 25 receiver and outperform his draft position, but Josh Gordon, Mike Williams, Vincent Brown and Lance Moore all have an average draft position within one round of him, and they are all players I would rather have.
Percy Harvin (ADP: Late Round 11):
How are people using any draft pick on a guy when the team is optimistically projecting him to be available Week 13? Yes, it’s just in time for the fantasy playoffs, but owners who tie up one of their precious limited bench spots for 12 weeks in order to jump the gun on a player who will be very rusty when he returns don’t generally make the playoffs.
Doug Baldwin (ADP: Undrafted):
Last year he was the Seahawks’ No. 4 receiver. A third-year breakout could happen, but he’s waiver material.