By the time you read this, I will have finished all five of my drafts and both my auctions heading into the 2013 fantasy football season.
To most people seven leagues seems crazy, but for those in the industry it actually seems a bit low. The number has been higher—I believe the most was 11 a couple years ago—and has been at least two for 24 years, as I have a league celebrating its 25th anniversary and the 2VFFL is in Year 24.
And while I’ve been peppering you with information over the past few months about who to draft and when to draft them, real world drafts and auctions are the true opportunity to put my money where my mouth is. Since one of the most frequent questions during the preseason has been “Who are guys you find winding up on all your teams?”, it only makes sense to bring these two topics together in the final preseason Off Tackle.
In short, what players am I going all in on in 2013?
Josh Freeman, QB, Buccaneers (4 teams)
Maybe you’ve heard it’s a great year to wait on quarterbacks; aside from one auction where I got a deal on Brees at $17, I did just that. Starters range from Romo to Kaepernick to Dalton to Eli to Schaub, and in many cases I am backing them up with Freeman. Something about the 4,000 yards and 27 touchdowns last year, and about playing for a contract this year. Maybe you’ve seen me mention him in just about every sleeper/undervalued article I’ve written this year.
Bilal Powell, RB, Jets (4 teams)
I love to shop in the bargain bins at the running back position, and few guys you can get so late in the draft (or for a buck at your auction) have the potential to handle feature-back carries for a run-oriented offense with a pretty good offensive line. Sexy? Hardly. But for a buck I’m not looking for sexy, I’m looking for a legit shot at 15-20 carries on a regular basis. I did manage to pair Powell with an inexpensive Chris Ivory in one auction, but in drafts he seemed to go off the board too early for me.
BenJarvus Green-Ellis, RB, Bengals (3 teams)
Another bargain-basement back with 15-plus carry upside. The love for Giovani Bernard has driven BJGE right into my lap in several drafts. Have we learned nothing from Jamaal Charles losing touches to Thomas Jones, or C.J. Spiller losing touches to Fred Jackson? Apparently not. Look, I watch “Hard Knocks”, I see the potential Bernard has… but I also think the Bengals give Green-Ellis goal line work and enough carries between the tackles to make him a viable fantasy helper—at a significantly reduced price.
Trent Richardson, RB, Browns (2 teams)
I don’t tend to spend big on running backs in auctions (though I did go $35 for TRich in my TD-only league), and my first-round spots tended more towards the middle. I did grab Doug Martin second overall, as well as Arian Foster early in one draft and was sniped on Tate later on, which I’d be more concerned about if I didn’t have a couple sleeper backs backing him up if need be. Richardson feels safe despite the injury concerns—a coordinator who’ll feed him, a solid offensive line, enough other weapons to draw attention. Guess I talked myself into him earlier, may as well do so now.
Shane Vereen, RB, Patriots (2 teams)
Love Vereen in PPR formats and was disappointed I only wound up with him twice. Looks like people in my leagues read my early sleepers piece back in May… or maybe they just noticed the Patriots lost every other pass-catcher familiar to Tom Brady and see Vereen combining his numbers from last year with all of Danny Woodhead’s and some of Aaron Hernandez’s.
Other backs on one 2V team: Frank Gore, Ryan Mathews, David Wilson, Bryce Brown, Stevan Ridley, Maurice Jones-Drew, Danny Woodhead, Michael Bush, Reggie Bush, Daryl Richardson, Darren McFadden, DeAngelo Williams, Darren Sproles, Fred Jackson.
Robert Woods, WR, Bills (4 teams)
My favorite late-round wide receiver with upside. As soon as E.J. Manuel returns to action, I can see Woods—already running as the Bills’ WR2—usurping Stevie Johnson as the primary target. Mix in the potential for a return score and there’s no one else that late in the draft with Woods’ upside.
Larry Fitzgerald, WR, Cardinals (3 teams)
I’ve always been a Fitz fan, and not just because he’s Minnesota-grown or perhaps the classiest guy in the NFL. He burned me a bit last year, but I’m back on the bandwagon in 2013 with a legitimate quarterback and a coach who somehow squeezed 20 more targets out of Reggie Wayne a year ago and looks to do the same thing with Fitz this year. Plus he’s a red zone nightmare—even more so than having Rashard Mendenhall as your feature back.
Cordarrelle Patterson, WR, Vikings (2 teams)
One league is a dynasty, where curiously enough I wheeled and dealed to three first-round picks and—like the Vikings—Patterson was my third of three; in the other, 50-yard touchdowns—be they receiving or in the return game—are worth double. If the Vikings use Patterson like they did Percy Harvin as a rookie, he more than lives up to his draft-day value.
Justin Blackmon, WR, Jaguars (2 teams)
Acquired Blackmon in my dynasty league, so the four-game hit doesn’t sting; on the other Blackmon team he’s a fourth WR I won’t need until he’s back. Low risk, potentially high reward.
DeSean Jackson, WR, Eagles (2 teams)
All that research into what the Chip Kelly offense might mean for the Eagles leads me to believe two things: Chip loves speed, and he loves to create mismatches. Jackson fits both those bills, and he won’t be battling Jeremy Maclin for looks.
Dwayne Bowe, WR, Chiefs (2 teams)
Andy Reid’s Chiefs will throw the ball—a lot. Right now they’re thin on guys who will catch it, so I expect Alex Smith to target Bowe plenty. Bowe also tends to fall into that sweet spot in the draft where, if I went RB/RB or even RB/WR/RB, he’s my favorite option for a WR2.
Josh Gordon, WR, Browns (2 teams)
The early sleepers piece identified much of what I like about Gordon—Norv Turner’s vertical passing game turning Gordon into Vincent Jackson 2.0—and his suspension drove his price down. Like Blackmon, if I felt set with my starting receivers adding Gordon’s upside for some point down the road seemed like a no-brainer.
Marques Colston, WR, Saints (2 teams)
The fantasy football world has accepted that Colston’s upside isn’t as an elite fantasy receiver because Drew Brees spreads the ball around so well; instead, he’s a solid low-end WR1 or quality WR2. I also happen to believe that Sean Payton spent his year off thinking about how to extract revenge on the league, and the result will be a veritable point orgy for the Saints—of which Colston claim take a healthy share.
Other receivers on one 2V team: Brandon Marshall, Vincent Jackson, Rueben Randle, Mohamed Sanu, Reggie Wayne, James Jones, Wes Welker, Cecil Shorts, Demaryius Thomas.
Jordan Cameron, TE, Browns (2 teams)
I really enjoyed those early drafts where I could take Cameron in the last round. Then he scored twice in the second preseason game, and suddenly I couldn’t pull that off any more. No matter, I’ll enjoy him on the teams I have him on.
Fred Davis, TE, Redskins (2 teams)
Davis became my fallback plan when Cameron was already taken; he and Cameron constitute half of my teams’ tight ends. In another league I had Cameron queued up but Kyle Rudolph was still on the board so I grabbed him; in my dynasty league I’m rolling with Tyler Eifert; and in another I was sniped on both Cameron and Davis so will cobble something together from amongst Martellus Bennett, Travis Kelce, and Zach Ertz. The Tony Moeaki injury has me thinking that Kelce pick might just work out.
Arizona Cardinals D/ST (2 teams)
Not all my leagues use a team defense, but in those where defensive and return TDs matter I was happy to wait on the position and snag Patrick Peterson and Honey Badger late.
Cincinnati Bengals D/ST (2 teams)
In leagues where sacks, picks, fumbles and points allowed matter I tended to jump a little earlier for a defense. The Bengals were my pick twice, and I grabbed J.J. Watt and the Texans once as well.
Blair Walsh, PK, Vikings (2 teams)
I’ll go a little earlier—maybe next-to-last round—to satisfy my need for an indoor kicker on a good offense, so I have Matt Bryant and Dan Bailey. I also have Stephen Gostkowski, who scores enough points he doesn’t need to be indoors. And I have Walsh on multiple teams because if you’re going to scratch the Vikings’ homer itch and you don’t have the first overall pick, Walsh is the way to go.