Fantasy Realities (Wk 4)

The good news is that last week’s column didn’t make me look like a complete doofus after the weekend, so we’ll keep going with it. This week I want to take a look at guys that are available in a lot of leagues and see if they are worth taking a chance on, whether for bye week help or for the rest of the season:

Quarterbacks  

Carson Palmer – Currently ranked 7th among QB’s, Palmer is only owned in 65.5% of ESPN standard leagues. While I don’t expect Palmer to stay a Top 10 QB, with the way things are going in Oakland, I expect them to continue to throw the ball a lot and Palmer looks much more accurate than last season. He should be considered a good bye week fill-in and also a solid #2 option for the rest of the season.

Ryan Fitzpatrick – Just two slots behind Palmer, Fitzpatrick is owned in less than half of ESPN standard leagues (43.9%). What you may want to think back to is that early on last season, Fitzpatrick was a surprise fantasy stud that was a hot pick-up. He fell off in the 2nd half of the season, but we found out afterward that it was likely due to playing 9 games with a rib injury. If healthy, Fitzpatrick looks like he could be a consistent, though not spectacular option for a #2 QB and is definitely a good option as a bye-week fill-in.

Andrew Luck – Really?! He’s available in over ¼ of all ESPN leagues? Interesting. Let’s just say it won’t take much LUCK for him to be worth a gamble. Yeah, I just went there.

Christian Ponder – As I mentioned earlier this week, this Vikings team isn’t as bad as most people thought and Christian Ponder is continuing to mature nicely. His production is coming steadily and he’s definitely seeming like a solid bye-week fill-in depending on the matchup.  I like him a good deal more than say Jake Locker, Ryan Tannehill, or Mark Sanchez.

Kevin Kolb – I’m definitely on the Kolb bandwagon yet, but if you are like me and have Ben Roethlisberger as your starter and his bye week is this week and there aren’t many options, Kolb could be a solid play this week. A porous Miami secondary, a stingy Miami run defense and a conservative game plan could net some quality numbers this week for Kolb. And yes, I do REALLY hope I’m right on this one.

Running Backs(These are pretty sparse since most everyone is speculating for yardage)

Andre Brown – Based on the past couple of weeks, it’s easy to believe that he could become an equal part of a timeshare with Ahmad Bradshaw. Given Bradshaw’s injury history, it also seems like a good chance that you will get a handful of weeks where he is the sole back with decent carries. For the 22% of you that see him on the wire, I’d snatch him quickly.

Jackie Battle – Still listed in the Top 25, Battle’s production was from one game and should be considered a fluke. I wouldn’t buy it.

Shaun Draughn – Available in 94% of ESPN standard leagues. Draughn is an interesting case. Up to this point in the Chiefs season injuries and big deficits have opened the door for Draughn to see more carries than any of us ever thought he would. Interestingly, he has been rather effective and is starting to look like the most likely back to fill in should Charles ever be out due to injury. Additionally, even with Charles healthy he’s been getting more carries than expected, and the reports are that the front office is fairly enamored with him. So while I don’t think you can count on specific production week-in and week-out, I do believe he is likely a good handcuff candidate for Charles owners as well as a solid choice if you are facing the possibility of not having anyone to put in a bye-week slot.

Mikel Leshoure – Are you serious?! 42% of folks could get him right now as a free agent. He’s going to be the feature back on the Lions and he has weekly Top 10 to Top 15 potential. Stop reading, and go pick him up.

Tashard Choice – It doesn’t seem likely that both Jackson and Spiller will be out for extended periods, but with each one’s injury history, it may not be a bad idea to stash Choice on your bench. He’s available in almost 90% of leagues and if the injuries mount for the other two, he’s proven that he can produce some good fantasy numbers when used as the feature back.

Wide Receiver

Danny Amendola – Believe. He’s the #1 option in St. Louis and 15% of you can pick him up. I’d go ahead and do it if you have any duds on your bench.

Jeremy Kerley – Kerley is available in over 90% of leagues and it’s becoming pretty clear that of the new faces in the Jets receiving corps (Kerley, Hill, etc.), Kerley is the one that seems to be finding the rhythm with Sanchez and is producing for fantasy owners. You can’t count on a TD 2 out of every 3 weeks, but you are far more likely to get positive production from him than from someone like Stephen Hill who is owned in 20% more leagues than Kerley.

Andrew Hawkins – Hawkins is available in around 85% of leagues and based on production he definitely looks like Andy Dalton’s #2 option. And with more and more teams double-teaming A.J. Green this should lead to plenty of opportunities for Hawkins to continue to shine. His double-digit production each week so far has been a fantasy revelation and while that may not be sustainable, his value is definitely legitimate.

Brandon LaFell – While a disappointment last week, it seems that is probably the aberration. His first two weeks he gave very good production for a Carolina Panthers team that seems destined to throw the ball a great deal this year. He’s available in almost 55% of leagues and could at least be a nice matchup play or perhaps even give you some much needed depth.

T.Y. Hilton (DEEP sleeper) – If you are in an exceptionally deep league or perhaps in a keeper league, you may want to keep your eyes on Hilton. He wasn’t well known in college at FIU, but he put up record-setting numbers that demanded teams to take a hard look at him come draft time. If he and Luck begin to develop some consistent chemistry, he could become Luck’s favorite target for years to come. In the very least, with Austin Collie’s continued injury issues Hilton is going to get some solid playing time and assuredly has the potential for big games like he had last week.

Tight End (There is a good deal more depth at Tight End than you might imagine and some very good players available)

Heath Miller – He’s been a high fantasy producer before and this year is looking to be Big Ben’s safety net now that Hines Ward is retired. It seems to me that Miller is basically getting his old looks plus the looks Ward was getting, and a good number of those looks are coming in the Red Zone. It’s a bit shocking to me that he’s available in over 66% of ESPN standard leagues.

Dennis Pitta – This helps confirm that I don’t have a lot of readers. I attempted to sell everyone on Pitta last week and yet he’s still available in about half of all ESPN leagues even after a 50 yard and one touchdown performance. It seems clear that Flacco will be looking for Pitta all season long and he should be a consistent producer.

Kyle Rudolph – Multiple pundits had talked before the season about Christian Ponder’s need to find a safety net that he was comfortable with so that he has a consistent bail-out option. So far this season it seems like Rudolph is auditioning pretty hard to fill that role. For a bye week fill in, if there’s a decent matchup you could do a whole lot worse than Rudolph.

Jermaine Gresham – It’s interesting to look at the Tight End rankings so far and see Gresham and Brandon Pettigrew right next to each other. They were compared in college due to similar body types and similar talents while going to Oklahoma State and Oklahoma respectively. They both went to also-ran organizations (Detroit & Cincinnati) that have become legitimate playoff contenders. And currently they are averaging the same number of points per game. The difference? Pettigrew is owned in 100% of leagues and Gresham is owned in 21%.

So now that you know… go make your team better! Remember, the team that wins your league is unlikely to be the team that drafted best. It’s normally the team that makes the best in-season adjustments.

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Categories: Fantasy Sports

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