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The Dubious Fantasy Risers

 “The world is full of hopeful analogies and handsome, dubious eggs, called possibilities.” – George Eliot

Last season, fantasy owners saw players like Brett Favre, Ray Rice and Miles Austin rise up and finish in the top five at their position in various scoring formats. So who are this year’s candidates to defy the implausible fate with which they will be faced? It’s time to roll the “

Klondike
” dice and find out.

Roll 1

Giants QB Eli Manning –
No, I don’t have the wrong Manning here. There are three factors that make him an improbable, but attractive, option for a run at the top five.

1) Manning’s 4,021 yards and 27 touchdowns last season were his best numbers of his career, as he showed that he does the ability to carry his team when the rushing attack fails.

2) He has a couple of talented young receivers in Hakeem Nicks, Steve Smith and Mario Manningham, who accounted for 70 percent of his yardage, and 66 percent of his touchdown passes. Guess what? They’re only going to get better in 2010.

3) The schedule. This is perhaps the biggest factor. Manning and the Giants offense will be faced with the seventh-toughest schedule in the NFL, but that’s just the start. At least half of their games will be played against pass-heavy high scoring offenses, which include
Indianapolis (Week 2),
Houston (Week 5) and

Green Bay
(Week 16). 

The bottom line here is that it may not be as crazy as it sounds to see this Manning at the same level of the fantasy mountain as his older brother in 2010 – at the top.  The first two fives are on the table.

Roll 2

Chargers WR Malcom Floyd –
Since Chris Chambers was sent packing, Floyd has been slowly creeping up the Chargers’ offensive food chain. He started nine games last season, posted his best numbers of his career (45 receptions, 776 yards), and even showed that he has the ability to be a 100-yard receiver with his nine-catch, 140-yard performance against the Redskins in the final week of the season. I have news – it’s only to get better for Floyd. Why?

1) The Chargers have become a passing juggernaut over the past few seasons, as evident by not only the drop in rushes for former star runner LaDainian Tomlinson, but the continual and gradual increase of passes being thrown by quarterback Phillip Rivers.

2) With a
Vincent Jackson holdout inevitable Floyd will assume the role as the top wide receiver possibly to start the season.  And when Jackson does finally decide to come back opposing defenses will continue to focus in on containing both him and Antonio Gates, which should allow Rivers to find the 6-foot-5 Floyd down the field in man-to-man situations more often, kind of like what Sidney Rice experienced last season in

Minnesota
.

3) The contract. Floyd just signed a one-year tender with the Chargers, and will be out to show the NFL world that he can hang with the elite, especially if he wants to sign a big contract as a free agent in 2011. More times than not this can be a driving force behind breakout seasons.

The bottom line with Floyd is that he has the physical tools, and will be highly motivated to perform at peak level. Add in a littlecontract, injury or defensive help, and he can overcome the improbable odds of reaching fantasy glory. Another five is found.  

Roll 3

Eagles RB Mike

Bell
/Cowboys RB Tashard Choice
It’s the last roll and I’m torn. Only two dice remain in the cup, and I’m unsure who will give me the five-of-a-kind that I need to win the game.

There’s the Eagles’ Mike Bell, who has been receiving first-team reps, and heavy praise from teammates like Brent Celek, who was heard calling

Bell
a sleeper on a
ESPN Fantasy Football podcast from a few weeks back.

Then there’s the Cowboys’ Tashard Choice, who is third on the depth chart behind two very good runners in Felix Jones and Marion Barber, even though he may be just as good than the two combined, and has the numbers to prove it.



Bell

has Willis McGahee fantasy potential, even if LeSean McCoy stays healthy and productive. However, I also believe he has Ray Rice potential if McCoy doesn’t stay healthy or becomes an ineffective bench player.

As for Choice, well he has played healthy and strong in all 32 of his first two seasons’ games as a Cowboy. Meanwhile, Jones has missed a total of 12 games since arriving two years ago, and Barber just admitted that he played with a torn quad last season.


Bell

averaged 50.3 yards per game and scored five touchdowns last season in a

New Orleans
backfield that also featured Pierre Thomas and Reggie Bush.

Choice has averaged more than five yards per carry in each of his first two seasons, and has scored a total of five touchdowns as third fiddle as well. 

The bottom line here is that there is no doubt that both can be effective runners if given the opportunity, but in this case the two fives will hit with Bell first. He has the better opportunity, and will be the Eagles’ primary red-zone runner no matter what happens. Choice will be lucky to even get ten touches per game with the Jones and Barber road blocks currently in his way. 

Other players who I believe could come up “five” include (in no particular order):
Michael Bush, Hakeem Nicks, Steve Slaton, Alex Smith and Early Doucet

By the way, five of a kind always wins
Klondike, and these dubious undervalued players could all provide the same result for your fantasy team. 

Thanks for reading!

Eric Huber is a staff writer for Fantasysharks.com.

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