Fantasy Football: It's Never TOO Early to Start Your Draft
In a sport where many people claim to be experts, each fantasy football season brings about a slew of unpredictable events. A year ago, Adrian Peterson was a huge injury risk that nobody wanted to touch in the first round of drafts. He, of course, proceeded to rush for more than 2,000 yards and came up just 9 yards short of breaking the all-time NFL single-season rushing record. It's never too early to start preparing for your draft.
image by Mike Morbeck
The 2013 offseason saw several stars from 2012 change teams. Perhaps the most notable move is Percy Harvin's trade to Seattle, giving one of football's most dangerous weapons an equally dangerous offense to work with. Harvin was always a valuable player, but in Minnesota his potential was stunted by weak quarterback play. In Seattle, Russell Wilson and Marshawn Lynch already comprise a top-notch offense, making Harvin's ceiling seemingly limitless.
Meanwhile, Wes Welker's quarterback situation barely changes as he moves west from New England to Denver. Peyton Manning didn't miss a beat in his first year with the Broncos, and Welker now gives the Broncos arguably the best trio of receivers in the league. Denver may suffer the proverbial "too many mouths to feed" syndrome, but the offense will put up points regardless. Danny Amendola, Welker's replacement in New England, should top last year's impressive totals if he stays healthy (a big IF).
Other potential impact moves include:
- Mike Wallace to Miami: A potential downgrade at QB, but Wallace is clearly the star of the show in Miami. He'll be the team's deep-threat, while Brian Hartline and his freshly-signed $30 million contract, is a solid PPR (points per reception) option.
- Running Back Roulette: Steven Jackson moved to Atlanta and Reggie Bush signed with Detroit. Jackson's best years are behind him, but he still proved effective in St. Louis last year. Bush proved he could carry a full load the past couple seasons in Miami, but he may lose goal-line touches to Mikel LeShoure.
It's tough for any 21-year-old to go straight into riches and media stardom, as is required of star NFL rookies. Worse, it is beyond difficult to figure out which rookies will produce for your fantasy team. Most "experts" correctly predicted a strong rookie campaign from Doug Martin in 2012, but very few even thought about Alfred Morris. And nobody saw Russell Wilson's impeccable 2012 coming. Again, it is a crapshoot.
Tavon Austin seems the perfect, faster replacement of Danny Amendola in St. Louis. If Sam Bradford targets him like he did Amendola, Austin could have a very solid year. DeAndre Hopkins, Houston's first-round pick, is in the best overall situation for a rookie wide receiver, as he'll see single coverage all season if Andre Johnson stays healthy.
Running backs are usually the most appealing rookie options because they're guaranteed touches and often play right away. Montee Ball (Denver), Eddie Lacy (Green Bay) and Le'veon Bell (Pittsburgh) were all drafted by teams that desperately need help at running back. Bell probably has the best chance to be this year's Doug Martin with Rashard Mendenhall now in Arizona, but Ball and Lacy, again, fell into great situations too.
According to CBS Sports, there is only one non-RB (Calvin Johnson) that is consistently going top-10 of standard scoring mock drafts as of early mid-May. In other words, its an absolute must to get at least one running back in the first or second round or come playoff time you could be watching from home on tv.
The draft is all about value, so just keep an eye on runs at certain positions. If three or four quarterbacks are selected consecutively in Round 4, it may be time for you to pounce as well to get one of those top-15 guys. And never get a kicker before the final round.