With the start of organized team activities, mock drafts have finally opened for business for this year’s fantasy football season on most of the major websites.
Fortunately, now I have something to do all summer. Unfortunately, it’s way too early to make hard calls on most players. You can’t really make concrete judgments on a player’s fantasy football value until training camp and preseason games begin. However, June is a good time to start combing the ranks, looking for players that stand out from the pack.
This list is players that seem strangely undervalued to me. Obviously it’s all subject to change after we see what happens during training camp, but these are players I seem to feel better about than other fantasy analysts.
In no particular order:
Jackson is always underrated, and the same seems to be true this year. Jackson finished as the 10th ranked running back overall last year, with fairly reliable production even when C.J. Spiller was healthy. He doesn’t have the top five upside he had when he was younger, but if you’re taking him after players like Chris Ivory, Cecil Shorts and Toby Gerhart, you’re crazy.
Now hear me out. No, he’s not the starter and yes, he’s abrasive and controversial. However, if you are trying to guess who is going to be this year’s 2012 Robert Griffin III, Manziel is the obvious choice.
If you wait on a quarterback and end up with Phil Rivers or Tony Romo, Manziel would be the ideal, high-upside backup. ESPN has him ranked behind QBs like Ryan Tannehill and Joe Flacco. You can pick QBs like that up off of the waiver-wire. QBs with the potential of Manziel? Not so much.
This is a player who is CRIMINALLY underrated right now. He’s obviously not the most talented rookie wide receiver, probably not even one of the five most talented. However, I’d argue that he does have the best opportunity to score some major fantasy points. After all, who else is Cam Newton going to throw to? Jason Avant? I doubt it. Benjamin is a big target with high potential. I’d bet he averages close to eight targets per game, definitely worth a late-round lottery ticket.
Full disclosure, I’ve always been a Roddy White fan, but this year especially he seems like a great value. His sub par performance last year was mainly due to a lingering high ankle sprain, and he finished the season with two very strong games. The return of Julio Jones should also help open up the underneath routes for White. I expect a big resurgence from him.
Concussions are going to be a concern for the rest of Welker’s career. However, for the first eight weeks last year, Welker was a top three receiver in fantasy football. His targets should increase as well with the departure of Eric Decker. I’d much rather roll the dice on Welker than other question marks like DeSean Jackson or Keenan Allen.
I have no idea why Cameron isn’t ranked higher. He’s big, fast, young and he’s in a great situation. Brian Hoyer was developing fantastic chemistry with Cameron last year before he tore his ACL, so if he starts it’s great for Cameron. If Manziel starts, I would bet that his big, athletic tight end becomes one of his favorite targets. Cameron finished fourth in fantasy points among TEs last year, and he’s only getting better.
Vereen would be the ideal third RB for my roster. He rarely carries the ball, but he has quickly become Tom Brady’s favorite target. He may not line up on the outside, but his production speaks for himself. He’s the only running back on the Patriot’s roster that Brady trusts, and that guy is someone I want on my team.
Jackson had at least nine fantasy points in five of his last six games last season, and you’re going to take Trent Richardson before him?!?! Please.
Jackson is as solid a number two running back as you’re going to find in today’s fantasy football environment, and most analysts have him ranked around the sixth round. I have a feeling that if that doesn’t change, he’s going to be on a lot of my teams this year.
I hated playing against Vincent Jackson last year. He had some injury issues, but when he was healthy he seemed liable to explode for 15+ fantasy points at any moment. I’ve been able to get him in many of my mock drafts in the third round. I think he’s a great value there as a number one receiver. Plus, if I draft at least two of the three Jacksons mentioned in this article I can start a new baby shampoo company to compete with Johnson and Johnson!
I’m a big fan of this guy. Finished the season VERY strong last year and he’s clearly the Patriots’ most talented wide receiver. Given the state of the Pats’ wide receiving core, I think he’s poised to be a top 20 fantasy WR this year.
Or, you know, I could be wrong.