August 8, 2014
Let’s face it, striking fantasy gold in the late rounds of your fantasy football draft is like… well, I guess it’s kinda like striking gold. It’s great when your 16th round sleeper emerges to fantasy relevancy, but if your honest with yourself, you know these instances are few and far between. On the flip side, players drawing tuff match-ups occurs on a weekly basis. Regardless of weather or not you’re a fan of the “streaming” strategy, every manager spends time analyzing the waiver wire and playing the matchup game to some extent. So why don’t we spend any time on the matchup game in our drafts? Instead, we take shots in the dark, wasting the last few picks of our draft on has-beens and hail mary rookies that we know won’t even be on our rosters in a week. Why not draft a player who can potentially pick up the slack when your WR3 is going up against Seattle in week 1? Don’t waste your late round picks on long shots. Instead, why not draft your streaming options? Here are some nice “plug and play” options that can potentially get you through your ugly, early season match ups this year.
Current ADP: Undrafted
Week 1-5 opponents: Min,TB, Dal, Phi
Bradford’s strength of schedule (SOS) at the beginning of the ’14 season is as good as it gets. His first four match-ups are against four of the worst pass defenses in the league based on fantasy points allowed to QBs last season. Bradford was in route to a breakout season last year and many have forgotten that he was actually the 7th best QB in fantasy prior to his week 7 ACL injury. It’s also worth noting that Bradford had most of his success without the benefit of a running game. Zach Stacy didn’t hit his stride until after Bradford’s season had ended. With a complimentary running game and a receiving core that’s by far the best Bradford has had during his stay in St. Louis, the potential is real for him to produce QB1 numbers early on. He’s going un-drafted in most re-draft leagues and will cost you next to nothing to roster.
Owners that should target Bradford: Tony Romo, Robert Griffin III, Jay Cutler
Week 1-5 opponents: GB, SD, DEN, WAS
Kearse has flown under the radar this off-season, but that should change after the first few weeks of the season. Reports out of Seattle are that Kearse is taking all the snaps in 3-WR sets and appears to be locked in as the third WR on the depth chart. He came on late last season during the Seahawks championship run, earning the trust of both Pete Carroll and Russell Wilson. The Hawks showed their confidence in Kearse on the biggest of stages, and he responded with huge TD catches in both the NFCC and Super Bowl. With Kearse’s ability to high point the ball, and his knack for making the big catch, there is huge potential for Kearse to become a true red-zone threat. He starts the season against four cupcake defenses that all finished in the bottom third of the league in red-zone defense. All signs point to Kearse becoming a point of emphasis in the red-zone. He quietly led all Seattle receivers in RZTs last season, and should emerge as a nice source of TD’s early this year. Think of Kearse as this season’s Jerricho Cotchery.
Owners that should target Kearse: Terrance Williams, Dwayne Bowe, Torrey Smith
Week 1-5 opponents: ATL, CLE, MIN, DAL, TB
Sean Payton has voiced his desire to deploy a more balanced offensive attack in New Orleans this year. With the departure of Darren Sproles, and Payton’s desired change in philosophy, there is definitely opportunity for a more tradition tailback to emerge out of New Orleans. Mark Ingram, who never really fit the mold of a Saints running back in the past, is the perfect fit for what Payton is looking to do in the running game. Pierre Thomas will be coined the starter on the official depth chart, but PT has never seen more than 147 carries in a season, and at the end of the day, he’s still just a glorified change of pace back. Don’t expect much work (if any) for Ingram in the passing game, but 12-15 carries a game is achievable. Ingram will no doubt have to compete with Khyri Robinson for work as well, but Ingram’s running style bodes well for him to see a substantial increase in carries, especially around the goal line. The Saints first 4 games are against defenses that yielded an average of 21.175 fantasy points per game to opposing backs last year. With a favorable early season schedule, Ingram is definitely worth his current ADP at the end of the 13th round.
Owners that should target Ingram: Ray Rice, Steven Jackson, Ryan Matthews
New York Giants TE:
Week 1-5 opponents: DET, ARI, HOU, WAS, ATL
The Giants TE situation is still unclear early in camp. 2nd year TE, Larry Donnell (My personal favorite to win the job) got the nod as the starter in the HOF game and looked good hauling in a nice 13 yard reception on 2 targets. The Giants’ TEs, in the past have been used in a more traditional sense, lining up off tackle, and were used primarily as blockers. That could all change this year. The Giants new OC, Ben McAdoo, lined his TEs up all over the field in the Giants’ first preseason game. McAdoo will look to get his TEs in space this year, making them more of a threat in the passing game like he did with Jermichael Finley in Green Bay. This bodes well for a guy like Donnell who is known more for his athleticism, route running and hands than his blocking ability. Whoever is named the eventual starter will face the 2nd easiest SOS (weeks 1-5) vs the TE based on last season. In weeks 2-5 the Giants will face the 32nd, 21st, 22nd and 25th ranked defenses in fantasy pts vs TE. Pay attention to this camp battle. You could end up with a nice early season sleeper.
Owners that should target NYG TE: Charles Clay, Delanie Walker, Jason Witten
Week 1-5 opponents: CLE, BAL, CAR, TB, JAX
There is a youth movement taking place on the defensive side of the ball in Pittsburgh. Dick LeBeau’s defense is looking to get faster by injecting an old veteran defense with some young talent that can fly around on the field. This blend of young rookie talent, such as MLB Ryan Shazier, and veterans like Troy Polomalu, could put the Steelers defense back on the fantasy radar. The Steeler’s early season schedule should give them just the opportunity they need to get off on the right foot. Its hard to not get excited about Pittsburgh’s early season potential with QB’s like Hoyer, Flacco, McCown, and Henne on the docket. If you’re a fan of streaming defenses, and/or draw some tough match-ups early on with your #1 defense, take Pittsburgh late in your draft. They should easily put up top 10 fantasy numbers through week 5, if not beyond.
Owners that should target PIT: Denver, San Francisco, Kansas City