Gresham is potential breakout candidate in Cincy
While the main goal of a fantasy draft is to end up with the best compilation of fantasy producers, a popular secondary goal is to impress the other owners in your draft with your knowledge of the NFL and fantasy football. A clever pick is a small victory, and the best way to start your fantasy season is with a string of small victories.
Here are seven picks that will be sure to impress the other owners in your league. I have included their Average Draft Position (ADP) over the last month, provided by Fantasy Football Calculator.
A fantasy question of interest lingers in San Diego after Vincent Jackson left the Chargers for Tampa Bay.
Malcom Floyd could slide into the vacated No. 1 receiver spot in 2012, making him a clever late-round pick. Floyd went for 856 yards receiving on just 43 receptions in 12 games in 2011. His 19.9 yards per catch was the highest average in the NFL.
But the 30-year-old has only managed to make it through the 16-game season in its entirety once in his career. Still, if Philip Rivers bounces back in 2012 (as I suspect he will), Floyd could be an incredible value, as he is generally being drafted in Rounds 8-10.
Hillman, a third-round draft pick by the Broncos this year, could steal some carries from veteran Willis McGahee (30) or take on the majority of carries as the season progresses if McGahee begins to show signs of aging. McGahee, though, had a solid first season with the Broncos in 2011, going for 1,199 yards on 4.8 yards per carry.
In a worst case scenario, Hillman would be a valuable handcuff. He went for over 1,500 yards and 17-plus TDs in each of his two seasons at San Diego State, so he certainly has the potential to be a quality feature back in the NFL.
Hillman is an impressive pick, as it shows you know which stars may be entering the twilight of their career (like McGahee) and which young players are waiting in the wings (like Hillman).
A popular fantasy tip going around this year is this: If you don’t get one of the elite QBs (Brady, Rodgers, Brees, and some would include Newton and Stafford), then wait to take a QB. One of the reasons to wait is that quality fantasy QBs like Jay Cutler will be available in the later rounds.
Cutler is an impressive pick because he is a former top five fantasy QB (No. 3 in 2008 with Denver) who is trending back up in 2012. Brandon Marshall was a key to Cutler’s success with the Broncos and now joins him in Chicago, giving Cutler maybe the best receiving corps he’s had with Johnny Knox, Devin Hester and rookie Alshon Jeffery to complement one of the best pass-catching backs in the league, Matt Forte.
Grabbing a solid QB1 like Cutler late in the draft is not only impressive, but allows you to more completely address other positions early on.
The best fantasy owners know all about the most important training camp battles, like the ones I discussed here. Also, smart fantasy owners know which rookies will have the most impact in their first seasons in the NFL. Selecting Martin, a rookie battling for the starting job in Tampa Bay with incumbent LeGarrette Blount, shows you have been paying attention this offseason.
However, Martin has become a trendy pick and is going very high for a rookie runner who isn’t guaranteed the starting role. While your insights on the talented runner from Boise State may be impressive on draft day, you’ll only look smart if Martin produces as a solid fantasy RB2. And those are lofty expectations.
Jones had eight TDs as a rookie in 2011, but an amazing six of those came in the last four weeks of the season. While Jones struggled with a hamstring issue in the middle of the season, his strong finish showed his true potential as a high-scoring WR.
There should be a more balanced distribution of targets between Roddy White and Jones this year. White had a league-leading 181 targets to Jones’ 96. Drafting Jones, even before White, shows you know a receiver on the rise when you see one and that you aren’t afraid to draft on potential.
Because of the statistical outbursts from Rob Gronkowski and Jimmy Graham last year, the TE position will be slightly overvalued in 2012. While Gronk and Graham are the top guys, there are 10-plus other TEs who will close the gap between those two and the field this year, with Gresham being one of them.
Gresham stands out as he is candidate to see a lot more targets this year as the Bengals don’t have the most reliable receivers after the talented A.J. Green. Gresham is young (23) with great size and athleticism. After missing all of 2009 with a knee injury, Gresham has put up two solid seasons with a slight improvement in 2011 as he caught 56 balls for 596 yards and six TDs. With the departure of Jerome Simpson from Cincinnati, Gresham could be a solid No. 2 option for Dalton and the Bengals.
Leshoure missed all of 2011 with a torn Achilles’ tendon suffered during a practice last August. He was expected to come in and produce as a complement to second-year RB Jahvid Best.
Unfortunately, Leshoure suffered another setback in 2012 as he was suspended for the first two regular season games for violating the league’s substance abuse policy.
Leshoure and Jahvid Best could prove to be a dangerous combination in the Lions’ backfield. It’s worth taking a chance on Leshoure as your fourth or fifth RB. In 2010, his final season at Illinois, Leshoure rushed for 1,697 yards and 17 TDs on 6.0 yards per carry.