Thank goodness summer is almost over. People who know me, know I have an almost unexplainable disdain for summer. The only thing I do during the summer is count down the days until September. I know you think I’m insane when I say summer is almost over, but listen to my logic for a second.
We’re already into June. By my crazy gorilla math, we only need to get to August. Once we get to August we’re basically at the end of summer because we have preseason football and fantasy drafts. So, in reality, we’re less than two months away from watching football.
Also, the key date is actually in June. June 21st has the most daylight in the calendar year. So after June 21 we begin losing daylight. All of a sudden me saying summer is almost over doesn’t sound so crazy anymore, huh?
So enjoy your golf, your boating, your barbeques, your beaches and whatever else you all do during the summer. I’ll be sitting inside watching last year’s college football games and counting down the days. My time is coming and it will be here sooner than you think. I’ll be picking out my pumpkin and watching Season 6 of Sons of Anarchy before you know it. You can’t stop me.
Now, on with
The Fire Sale …
Rashard Mendenhall, RB, Arizona – I’ve been watching college football for a long, long time now. One of my favorite all-time college players is Ryan Williams when he was at Virginia Tech. I absolutely loved him, and I really thought Williams was going to be a more-talented version of Marion Barber in the pros.
However, if you follow me, you know I don’t stick to predictions just hoping to be right. While it’s still early on in Williams’ career, it just doesn’t look like things are going to happen for him. I love the kid but he just can’t stay healthy.
Now, things can obviously change. Years ago I loved a guy coming out of college named Andre Brown, and look at the road he took before having fantasy value. If I’m being honest, though, my gut tells me Williams will end up being a running back that had talent but the injuries piled up and he never reached his potential in the NFL.
When I break down players for an upcoming season, the two things I look at are talent and opportunity. While I think there are certainly better runners in the league than Mendenhall, I love his situation in Arizona. I mean other than Williams (if he’s healthy), there really isn’t another back that can push him for playing time. Stepfan Taylor is a rookie back I like down the road, but for 2013 I see Mendenhall getting the majority of the carries in Arizona.
In today’s NFL there aren’t a lot of running backs who dominate his team’s touches anymore, but I think that’s how things are shaping up in Arizona with Mendenhall. He’s never going to be a spectacular fantasy running back, but I expect Mendenhall to be a solid, steady RB2 all season long. Yet, according to myfantasyleague.com he’s going in round eight, on average, in early fantasy drafts behind guys like Lamar Miller, Le’Veon Bell, Eddie Lacy, BenJarvus Green-Ellis, Giovani Bernard and Andre Brown. That’s absolute robbery if you can get Mendenhall that late. I mean seriously, Bernard? Give me a break.
I see Mendenhall being the most undervalued player in early fantasy drafts. Don’t make the same mistake when your drafts roll around later on this summer.
Dwayne Harris, WR, Dallas – You’ll keep hearing reports from the slanted Dallas media about how improved Harris is this offseason. It is a bunch of garbage. They’re just making excuses for Jerry Jones. The reality is Harris should have been the Cowboys’ No. 3 receiver all of last season.
I said at least 20 times to my Dallas friends last year that Harris was the most underutilized player in the NFL. This shouldn’t be a surprise, though, since no team in the NFL wastes talent like Jones and the Cowboys. See, Harris was put on the backburner so Jones could waste more time proving Kevin Ogletree had no business being on an NFL roster.
Despite using his first three years in the NFL confirming he couldn’t catch, run routes or understand an NFL offense, Jones thought Ogletree deserved one more season to show us all those things, again. Thus, Ogletree won the No. 3 receiving job in Dallas, keeping a more talented player on the bench.
Of course, this is the same franchise that drafts a running back in the fifth round (Joseph Randle) and hands him the backup job behind DeMarco Murray without the guy ever stepping foot on the field and proving anything to earn that job. In other news, the Cowboys have one playoff win in the last 16 years.
I was a big fan of Harris in college when he played at East Carolina. I thought he was one of the top sleepers coming out in the draft three years ago. However, I was disappointed when he went to Dallas because I know what a comical franchise the Cowboys have become over the years under Jones’ leadership.
As a rookie, Harris showed promise in training camp and in preseason games. Then last offseason I had people tell me how good Harris looked in camp but he was passed over by an inferior player. Once it became obvious to even people in the Cowboys organization that Ogletree had no business being on an NFL field, Harris finally got a chance and showed promise at the end of the season, catching 17 passes for 222 yards and a score in Dallas’ final seven games.
So while I never trust what the Cowboys will do, I think even they realize it’s time to give Harris his shot. I once wrote years ago about a kid Dallas was sitting on their bench so they could throw passes to an over-priced waste of time named Roy Williams. That kid was Miles Austin. Now Austin is starting to decline as his injuries pile up. I think Harris will begin the year as the Cowboys’ third receiver, but, in my opinion, he has a good chance to finish behind Dez Bryant as their second most productive wideout in 2013, if Austin can’t stay on the field.
I’m not right all the time, but I almost always know when the Cowboys are keeping a player down. Is Harris improved from last year? Maybe, but he’s not this vastly improved receiver the slanted Dallas media apologists that are in Jones’ pocket are making him out to be.
Harris is ready to produce right away, and I predict he’ll be one of the biggest fantasy surprises of 2013. I would strongly advise taking a shot on him in the later rounds of your draft.
Deonte Thompson, WR, Baltimore – I really liked Thompson in college but you have to remember something; he basically had me throwing to him at Florida. Check that, he would have been better off if I was throwing him the football in college, his quarterbacks were so bad.
I obviously didn’t expect Thompson to do much as a rookie. I was happy when he was signed as an undrafted free agent by Baltimore because the Ravens are such a good organization, and, unlike Harris, I knew if he earned an opportunity to play, he would get it. Now with Anquan Boldin in San Francisco, Thompson is competing to be the Ravens’ No. 2 receiver and I like him to win the job.
Last season, Thompson didn’t do anything until catching four balls in Baltimore’s final game when the Ravens sat their starters. Realistically, though, no one expected him to be a factor on a Ravens team that made a Super Bowl run. Now entering training camp, Thompson is competing with Jacoby Jones, Tandon Doss and David Reed to replace Boldin, and, like I mentioned, I think there’s a good chance he emerges as the winner out of that group.
So what are we talking about here in terms of fantasy production? I’m a guy who likes to keep predictions realistic. One thing I think too many fantasy writers do is when they like a guy they get a bit crazy and overhype him. If Thompson wins the job and finishes with 40-45 receptions this year that will be a heck of a second season, considering he was a non-factor as a rookie.
In re-draft leagues I like Thompson as a late-round flier or a guy to watch on the waiver wire. He is a receiver that may be a valuable matchup play during bye weeks. However, Thompson’s main fantasy value is in dynasty leagues. He’s a developing receiver playing with a quarterback in Joe Flacco who’s in the prime of his career. Even if he wins the starting job, though, Thompson’s biggest fantasy impact is still a couple of years down the line.