As we enter training camp, if you are a semi-savvy fantasy football manager, you very likely have already formed a list of players in your head that you are keeping an eye on. It might be a short list of about 5-10 players you think can make a big splash if they don’t hit any bumps in the road before the regular season starts. It is a good strategy to have … it really is.
Problem is, when your draft day rolls around, you can count on having to make decisions about a group of players you hadn’t really thought much about or focused on during these coming weeks. These names won’t be sexy ones, but there is a point where they become valuable ones. The more prepared you are to consider all options, the more successful fantasy football manager you will become long-term.
– It’s pretty hard to get excited about a guy who hasn’t reached 1,000 yards since 2010 and consistently deals with chronic hamstring issues. That sentiment is easily reflected in the fantasy community by Austin being drafted as WR34 despite finishing as WR26 in 2012. Right there, without going any further, we can see value is to be had.
Last season, Austin very obviously lacked the burst that put him in the elite category when he first broke through. That was absolutely due to his leg injuries. I believe there is reason for optimism regarding Austin moving forward. He still averaged 14.3 yards per catch despite the lack of explosiveness we were once accustomed to seeing. Austin will never see a double team for as long as Dez Bryant is his teammate and he has only actually missed games in one of the last four seasons.
In a pass-friendly offense, it is hard to imagine him not having a better year than 2012 if he plays in every game like he did a year ago. If he improves at all, you can likely land a solid WR2 by drafting him as a WR3 in the sixth, seventh or eighth round. If you are in a league that plays a flex position, it is guys like Austin in the mid rounds who will allow you to go running back in the first three rounds and get away with it.
– Talk about a guy who disappeared the second half of the fantasy season in 2012. With his extremely hot start, it was very likely owners were afraid to bench him late in the season and were repeatedly disappointed when it mattered the most late in the year. I doubt many of you reading this think that Daniels is even in consideration to begin the season as your fantasy squad’s starting tight end. I actually don’t blame you, but for a guy going in the 10th round or later in every draft, everywhere – he could be a bit of a bargain.
When your targets start going elsewhere and you don’t reach 45 receiving yards in a game for six straight weeks, there usually is cause for concern that you are being phased out of the offense. Possibly even a concern you are being passed up on the depth chart. The thing is, Daniels’ yards per catch sharply dropped from 12.9 to 9.5 after the first eight games. When you watched him on film, it was clear his health was an issue. You can put to bed the myth that he won’t be a large part of the passing offense when you consider the fact that in the Houston Texans’ two playoff games, Daniels set a season-high in targets in both games. He racked up 18 catches in those two contests, and while he still wasn’t moving at full speed, the thought of him not approaching 65 catches again no longer holds water.
I wouldn’t expect Daniels to play a full slate of 16 games, and I would advise grabbing another tight end a couple rounds after grabbing Daniels. I would also tell you, when Daniels is in the Texans lineup and healthy, you will get top-8, if not top-5, tight end production. And that, my friend, is how you get a leg up on the competition if only for weeks at a time without paying premium price for a ‘premier’ tight end.
– It is kind of comical that Drew Brees gets the well-deserved respect he is due, but Marques Colston and especially Moore cannot. From strictly a talent standpoint, I would say Moore is one of the 10 most underrated players in the NFL. He knows how to find gaps in the defense, makes tough catches across the middle, has very good body control and has pretty reliable hands. With all that said, he set a career-best 16.0 yards per reception in 2012 and has finished in the top 25 in red zone targets each of the last two seasons with 31 combined looks.
So why is this receiver who is at the peak of his career and playing with a Hall of Fame quarterback being drafted as the 41st wideout off the board? Curious, isn’t it? Nothing will change under the Sean Payton regime. The Saints will pass the ball close to 60 percent of the time and their offense will be on a mission this season to make a statement to the rest of the league.
Moore had more than 100 targets a year ago, and even if somehow that number decreased and he only had 900 receiving yards, it would be silly of us to project anything less than his five year average of seven touchdowns per season. With that projection alone, at 132 points in standard leagues, that would rank him 23rd and 24th at the wide receiver position in 2011 and 2012, respectively. The underrated Saints receiver is one of the biggest bargains in fantasy football right now.