There is a misunderstanding in fantasy football. This gaffe can be exploited. Owners across the board are pursuing youth, especially in dynasty leagues. Ask yourself, “Why would you want to risk your higher picks on unknown commodities?” I understand that the world of fantasy is gambling. Literally. Even if you are viewing NCAA football on a regular basis and feel like you understand what a player can bring to the NFL when he’s drafted, you never know how they’ll react to a new lifestyle, new surroundings and the brutal, fast-paced brand of football known as the NFL.
Positions play a huge part in the evaluation of age and their deterioration rate. The best example you can find looking at the stats of the top scorers over the past five seasons, you will notice quarterbacks have cemented themselves in the driver seat of generating points on a consistent basis. Very few of said QBs are rookies or second year pros. A closer look at last year’s fantasy points will vary slightly, based on your points system, but not greatly.
1. Peyton Manning DEN
2. Drew Brees NOS
3. Andy Dalton CIN
4. Phillip Rivers SDC
5. Cam Newton CAR
This list captures top fantasy scorers at the most consistent position in football right now. Three out of five of these guys are 32 or over. Phillip Rivers, the best case for stealing a forgotten name, was hovering around QB20 on many publications as of September ‘13. Rivers illustrates that some positions such as his have absolute value regardless of age and in this case may have a “sweet spot” or “peak” around 30. Where as a running back finds their peak around 25.
Digressing from some fairly obvious facts for some, there are players that get tossed around and don’t generate buzz. Sometimes because of their quiet style, sometimes because their team is off the radar. As time moves on, these players become names on a list, losing their luster. Utilizing your knowledge of the image of certain players will greatly improve your chances of rostering them at the smallest cost (Later draft picks/less value traded).
If you plan on playing fantasy football for money, your thesis should be “Cogito ergo sum” or “I think, therefore I am”. Do not make decisions based on trends or “liking” a player/team. Find the best players for the least amount you have to give.
These players are the tops of your bargain hunting and will add the most value for less.
Phillip Rivers, QB San Diego
Previously mentioned, Rivers’ basement value in the 2013 offseason will rise slightly to around QB15 in dynasty leagues. The Chargers restructured surprise stand out receiver Eddie Royal and re-signed big play WR Seyi Ajirotutu. Former Steeler TE David Johnson signed on with the Chargers, Johnson was a trusty combo TE in Pittsburgh that can make himself known for both manhandling outside pass rushers and providing “Marmalade” with a big target, not named Antonio Gates. Guard Chad Rinehart re-signed to hold together a pretty nasty front in San Diego that allowed less than two sacks a game. The 2013 comeback player of the year looked better than when he was in his twenties. Checking down, making reads and the best of his surrounding players’ strengths. Phillip Rivers is back and will overcome a tough schedule to make it back to the top of the heap of NFL fantasy quarterbacks.
Fred Jackson, RB Buffalo
Year after year, Fred Jackson is overlooked. CJ Spiller has been given the key to the Bills running game by the fantasy community. At 33, No one seems to have told Jackson or his body that his career is over. F-Jax has had his share of injuries over his career, but the Euro League alum missed no games in 2013 and looks as explosive as ever.
CJ Spiller may not be able to shoulder the load of carries durably like Bills’ fans hoped, but has split the load almost equally. Jackson’s ability to stay consistent and provide adequate ball control have paid off, the Bills have made an integral role in the redzone for the Coe graduate. Jackson nailed down nine touchdowns to Spiller’s two. Fred should be hovering around an astonishing RB55 after being a top 15 scorer in 2013. There is no reason why Jackson and Spiller can’t continue their symbiosis to Fred’s benefit. You have a “win now” mentality? Fred Jackson is your guy around RB 30 or so.
Andre Johnson, WR Houston
For a top-tier receiver that has been a consistent WR1 for his entire career, Andre Johnson sure has been quickly forgotten. At 32, his talent has never been in question, eleven years with the Texans would seem to call for his downfall. 2013’s 2-14 debacle was a product of injuries, terrible defense, poor play on the offensive line and Matt Schaub’s implosion.
2014 brings new hope for the Texans. Along with the easiest schedule in the NFL comes a fresh Quarterback in either Ryan Fitzpatrick or a top-tier rookie to man an offense that boasts not only Johnson, but emerging sophomore wideout DeAndre Hopkins to draw coverage. Bill O’Brien has indicated that he and the Houston staff will be upgrading the offensive line (Especially the guard position), whether by trade or the May 8th draft. Andre Brown has been signed to serve in the backfield with Arian Foster and add a pass protection weapon. Johnson will not only have Hopkins, but a very dependable receiving corps is developing with both speedster Keshawn Martin and possession wideout DeVier Posey developing into capable targets. The best news for the Texans is that they kept sensational TE Garrett Graham, resigning him to a three-year deal. Garrett and Ryan Griffin will combine in O’Brien’s offense for one of the best blocking tight end tandems in the NFL.
Johnson is not done producing in the NFL and his health and targets should remain if the new regime can utilize the assets around them and successfully draft around Foster, AJ and Hopkins.
Justin Tuck, DE Oakland Raiders
Tuck enters into one of the most aggressive and underrated defenses in the NFL. Lamarr Woodley and Antonio Smith’s arrivals should alleviate the blocking and help find a way to opposing quarterbacks. Having ruthless pass rushers Sio Moore, Nick Roach and Kevin Burnett behind Tuck should keep teams guessing how to contain the end, who racked up eleven sacks in 2013 with the Giants and will be looking to duplicate this endeavor.
These players might seem stale, they might seem unimaginative. These players will produce in 2014 and if you can find them at a sufficient value ahead of the herd, you can wind up playing for all the marbles this year. Dynasty or redraft, playing fantasy football for money happens every year and these guys are worth a look right now.