The 2014 NFL Draft hasn’t even arrived and we’re thinking about the 2014 Fantasy Football season. Yeah, well, that’s how we roll. More than just doing it for something to do, I took a recent look at how early mock drafts have been shaking up, and I caught some things I felt every fantasy owner should know.
It’s only May and trends and player value will surely change quite a bit, but often times what happens before camps open actually holds true, come August. If that’s the case, you’ll want to bang some of this information into your brain before everyone else even begins their research.
Here at Breaking Football, it’s fantasy analysis all season long, so let’s get right back into it my taking a look at five bargain buys courtesy of ADP (Average Draft Position) results in standard 12-team mock drafts over at FantasyFootballCalculator.com:
Cam Newton, QB, Carolina Panthers (Round 8 ADP, 10th QB)
Cam Newton is coming off boards mid-way through the eight round in fantasy football mock drafts. That’s unacceptable. Granted, he’s rehabbing an ankle injury and currently has no weapons worth mentioning outside of Greg Olsen, but this is still Cam Newton we’re talking about.
Pros: Top-4 regular, Running ability, Still has Greg Olsen
Cons: No help, bum ankle
The Skinny: I get the concerns, but Newton never really had a studly supporting cast before, yet he routinely finished as a top-four fantasy quarterback. Three straight seasons, to be exact. Outside of Steve Smith leaving, what has really changed? Carolina will find him some talent in the draft at some point, and it will be business as usual. Is he a threat to dip out of the top-four for the first time in his career? Sure, but top barely be a top-10 option? Let’s be real.
Eli Manning, QB, New York Giants (Round 14, 24th QB)
Eli Manning was pretty bad in 2013. Like, you had to drop him before the middle of the year, bad. He’s also still a 2-time Super Bowl winner and a regular quality fantasy quarterback. Prior to his horrid 2013 season, Peyton’s little bro put up 3,900+ passing yards and 26 or more touchdowns in four straight seasons.
Pros: Experience, Solid weapons
Cons: Bad 2013, Bum ankle
The Skinny: The real deal isn’t that Eli is going south, it’s that his 2013 offense ran stale and no one else around him was helping him. Victor Cruz wasn’t himself, Hakeem Nicks was terrible, Reuben Randle ran the wrong routes, the offensive line was awful, the running game was inconsistent and Manning was forced to do way too much. With all of that potentially changing for the better in 2014, Manning could be a nice bounce back option. He’s nowhere near Newton’s level, but he can still be a decent QB1. If he is and you got him in round 14, you’re doing OK.
Toby Gerhart, RB, Jacksonville Jaguars (Round 5 ADP, 26th RB)
Toby Gerhart finally gets his chance to shine in 2014, after years of suffocating behind the stud that is Adrian Peterson. In Jacksonville, Gerhart figures to be the lead back and could easily chase RB2 value, if not better.
Pros: Fresh legs, Featured role, Weak division, Little competition
Cons: Unproven, Lack of explosiveness
The Skinny: Gerhart is hungry as hell and he’s about to mash up the NFL. He doesn’t have elite speed or explosiveness, but he’s a quality downhill runner who cuts better than he’s given credit for. He also has excellent vision, follows blocks well, and is a versatile threat as a receiver and blocker. The Jags say they want their new workhorse to get 15-20 touches and I believe them. That should put him at RB2 value at the worst. Why Gerhart is being taken behind guys like Joique Bell and Rashad Jennings is beyond me.
Andre Johnson, WR, Houston Texans (Round 4 ADP, 18th WR)
Every year AJ seems to get knocked down as if he’s some terrible receiver that has lost two full steps. He doesn’t score touchdowns at a high rate, but he racks up receptions and yardage like nobody’s business. Even with another change at quarterback, there’s little reason to think he’s suddenly not going to be a quality WR1 in fantasy football.
Pros: Still has it, Top target, Great value
Cons: Aging, QB?
The Skinny: Johnson can still ball. His main knocks are his inability to crush it in the red-zone and the uncertainty of his quarterback situation. If the guy can put up numbers with a fading Matt Schaub and a guy who can’t read the blitz to save his life (Case Keenum), he’ll be just fine with whoever is under center in 2014. People shouldn’t be taking guys like Percy Harvin (always hurt) over him.
Jason Witten, TE, Dallas Cowboys (Round 7 ADP, 7th TE)
Witten is actually probably right where he needs to be in terms of value for the most part. Combine his weak 73-catch 2013 season with the fact that guys like Jordan Cameron and Jordan Reed are rapidly rising, and he might settle in nicely as fantasy’s #7 receiver going into 2014. He’s more experienced and more reliable than those guys and a couple others ahead of them, though. Waiting a little longer gets you a solid bargain and potentially even better production.
Pros: Target monster, Healthy, No More Austin
Cons: Aging, Down 2013
The Skinny: Jimmy Graham is a first rounder, Julius Thomas is a third rounder and even Jordan Cameron is being taken a full round ahead of Witten. Sure, Witten had a down 2013, but Miles Austin will be gone and he’ll be needed as a receiver once again in 2014. Besides, after dominating with well over 100 receptions in 2012, a drop off in targets/receptions was only natural. Look for Witten to return solid value and creep closer to 80+ receptions.
Have other value picks up your sleeve? Share them with us in the comments below!
*Photo Credit – Homer McFanboy via Flickr