The off season is the best time to collect information. I feel it the most vital time of information gathering. While others are just kicking back relaxing and waiting for the magazines to come out, you can be surfing team pages and articles about OTA’s and mini-camp.
Why you may ask? Because subtle information is passed out about players that you can use going into your drafts to target players. Let me give you a few examples.
It was the end of 2003 and I had just inherited a keeper team from someone who had left the league after finishing in last place. Having been out of FF for nearly 6 years, I had to do research. Who was good? Who could I steal? In a 10 team keeper league with 5 keepers each, there wasn’t much to choose from, and I had to be smart. After much reading, I had targeted 4 players. I read that Tiki Barber had been cured of his fumbling problems, and had bulked up that offseason so he could carry more of a load and be an every down back. Curtis Martin came into camp in the best shape of his career and said he had felt 20 again. The same with Jerome Bettis. Javon Walker was just coming off of his sophomore season with 9 TD’s and I had read where he had bulked up to fight through defenders and shaved points off of his 40 time while working out in AZ. Pre-season came and Ron Dayne was the talk of the Giants and I became rattled and didn’t draft him, Curtis Martin didn’t get around to me in time, and I have too many Steelers fans in my league to have gotten Bettis. I was able to snag Javon Walker. I don’t need to tell you faithful out there how that season ended. Curtis Martin won the rushing title, Barber had the best season of his career and was the most underrated back in FF, Jerome Bettis became a GL monster with 941 yds and 13 TDs. Walker had his 3rd year breakout with 89-1382-12. The lesson I learned…DON’T SLEEP ON THIS KIND OF INFORMATION! I’m only telling you this because I think the first person that I’m recommending with the last pick of the draft is:
What? I know, I know. I haven’t even seen him drafted in any mockdrafts which would mean he’s most likely gonna be there in the smaller leagues with your last pick. I’m not saying he’s definitely gonna be your team’s saviour, but honestly, other than a kicker or a defense you don’t want, who else are you gonna pick? This summer the objective news reports have raved about the shape that Leftwich is in and the Mike Tice offense should be better suited for his play. Nevermind all of the talk from the coach about his Wide Recievers being in question. Believe you me, when regular season comes around Leftwich will be rifling it around. He’s got two great RB’s coming out of the backfield to keep defenses honest and to catch the rock on checkdowns. Marcedes Lewis should show improvement in his second year as well, not to mention Jermaine Wiggins is reunited with Mike Tice. Matt Jones’ size and speed can’t be ignored in his 3rd year and Reggie Williams seemed to turn the corner last year, but it was hard for him to get in sync with the QB’s getting hurt so much. If you really have no clue as who to burn your last pick on, there will be no greater value in the last round than Byron Leftwich.
The next player I’m suggesting, really isn’t much of a secret this year. You might have to take him higher as he’s going in the last couple of rounds in many mockdrafts. Keep your eye on…
Before you start cussing out this article about how many times Troy Williamson dropped the ball last year, just remember how many times he was THROWN TO. Terrell Owens and Randy Moss dropped a lot of passes last year as well and they are both going high, high, high. Why not drop a last round pick on a guy with a lot of upside. The Vikings will be forced to throw a lot, and with the head coach installing his version of the west coast offense, there should be many passes for TW. His biggest problem with catching was supposed to be fixed this offseason with eye surgery and he’s impressing in minicamps. The running game should also be solid so that will force defenses to crowd the line, allowing for Williamson’s speed to get open deep.
You may agree or disagree with these picks, or maybe I’ve opened your eyes to few things. Hopefully you’ll take a flyer or two on these guys and be surprised with the outcome. In the last 3 years after returning to Fantasy Football I’ve learned never to diss the minicamp reports and it has served me well in my drafting and targeting. I hope it will help you too. Just remember, when it comes to the NFL, there is no offseason!