Fantasy Football 2012: Top 10 Underrated Performers
For some reason or another, many talented football players who routinely post solid numbers for fantasy purposes still don’t get the love they deserve.
Is it because they are all not that sexy? Getting old? Are they perceived as selfish? Or do some of these players get overshadowed by some of their teammates?
Whatever it is, there are always a great deal of underrated performers who continually get the shaft from the everyday fantasy player.
So, in this slideshow I will give props to the guys who hardly get the credit they deserve.
Eli Manning: New York Giants
What else does Manning—a two-time Super Bowl MVP champion—need to do to win over his peers?
Sure, from a fantasy perspective, guys like Aaron Rodgers, Drew Brees and Tom Brady should all be ranked ahead of Manning. Still, so many fantasy owners relegate Manning as just a low-end fantasy quarterback option.
Aside from the aforementioned quarterbacks—plus Matt Stafford and Cam Newton—Manning is perhaps the next best option at quarterback.
I mean, how can you argue with the three-year averages of 29 touchdowns and 4.318 passing yards from 2009-2011?
Darren Sproles: New Orleans Saints
Although Sproles erupted last year for career-high numbers across the board in his first year in New Orleans, many people still undervalue him because of his small stature.
Most of his naysayers will argue Sproles isn’t your prototypical running back and that he also has to share carries in the Saints’ crowded backfield.
Regardless, Sproles gets his numbers and Brees loves connecting with him on short routes. While Sproles is a pedestrian rusher (603 rushing yards in 2011), he is an outstanding pass catcher and led all running backs last year in receiving yards (710).
You should continue to expect close to 1,200 combined rushing and passing yards and close to ten total touchdowns from Sproles once again.
Marques Colston: New Orleans Saints
Colston is yet another Saints’ skill position player who gets lost in the shuffle due to the fact that Brees loves to spread the ball around.
That being said, Colston continually still posts stats in line with those of a No. 1 wide receiver.
If you toss out his 2008 season in which he missed five games, Colston’s average season looks like this: 80 receptions, 1,096 yards receiving and 8.6 touchdowns.
Those are spectacular numbers, but yet you’ll always see Colston being drafted as No. 2 wide receiver these days.
Brent Celek: Philadelphia Eagles
With the Eagles having weapons such as Michael Vick, LeSean McCoy, DeSean Jackson and Jeremy Maclin, Celek often becomes a forgotten man in Philadelphia.
After having a breakout season in 2009, Celek disappointed a lot of fantasy players with a mediocre 2010 season.
However, Celek came on strong towards the end of the 2011 season (62 receptions for 811 yards receiving and five touchdowns) and goes into this season a great value pick at tight end.
Undoubtedly, Celek will be drafted as a No. 2 tight end. But with the Eagles’ offense set to click, Celek could position himself as a trusted No. 1 tight end during the season.
Ben Roethlisberger: Pittsburgh Steelers
If healthy, and by all indications he looks good in the preseason, Roethlisberger could regain his status as a legit No. 1 quarterback.
The only thing that has held Roethlisberger back lately have been injuries and his off-the-field issues. However, now that all of those issues seem to be a thing of the past, Roethlisberger should get back to playing at an elite level.
Now that it appears Mike Wallace is back in the fold, and with Antonio Brown and Emmanuel Sanders to make big jumps in their games, Roethlisberger should be a solid quarterback to bank on this season.
BenJarvus Green-Ellis: Cincinnati Bengals
Now that the “Law Firm” has moved to a team that will appreciate and incorporate the run more often, Green-Ellis should be able to fully realize his potential.
Even in a pass-happy offense in New England, Green-Ellis still posted 24 touchdowns in the last two seasons. However, he only received on average 205 rushing attempts in the last two years. Expect Green-Ellis to receive close to 300 carries this year since that is about on average what Cedric Benson (who Green-Ellis is replacing) averaged for the last three years in Cincinnati.
With that said, there is potential for some really gaudy numbers for Green-Ellis this year.
Reggie Wayne: Indianapolis Colts
The reports of Wayne’s demise have been greatly exaggerated.
While not a spring chicken anymore, Wayne is not completely over the hill at 33. Wayne’s mediocre 2011 season was a direct result of him not getting into a consistent rhythm with a trio of awful quarterbacks in Curtis Painter, Dan Orlovsky and Kerry Collins. He clearly missed Peyton Manning throwing him the ball.
True, he doesn’t have Manning throwing him the ball anymore, but he has a quarterback in Andrew Luck, who has the makeup and the poise to be an outstanding quarterback—starting as soon as this year.
Wayne could drop to third-receiver status, and he’ll make for a great selection in the middle portions of drafts.
Ryan Fitzpatrick: Buffalo Bills
Coming from Harvard, Fitzpatrick always had to battle critics and constantly prove himself.
Well, after posting two–year averages of 3,416 passing yards and 23.5 touchdowns, Fitzpatrick has made his mark in this league and has solidified himself as a low-end No. 1/high-end No. 2 quarterback.
If Fitzpatrick can cut down on the interceptions (he had a dreadful 23 last year), he’ll endear himself to more fantasy players this year.
Fred Jackson: Buffalo Bills
Speaking of underrated Bills, well, you can add Jackson to the mix.
After breaking his leg late last season, many people are avoiding Jackson like the plague and are anointing C.J. Spiller as the Bill’s running back to target this year.
While I agree that Spiller will cut into Jackson’s touches, just remember the season Jackson was having last year (934 yards rushing, 442 yards receiving and six total touchdowns in 10 games) and that he is technically still the Bills No. 1 running back on the depth chart.
As long as he is healthy, Jackson will remain an integral part of the Bills’ offense and if you can snatch him as a No. 2 running back, consider yourself fortunate.
Santana Moss: Washington Redskins
After a so-so 2011 campaign in which he posted 46 receptions for 584 yards and four touchdowns, Moss is a player not on many fantasy owners' radars this year.
Moss struggled last year trying to develop a rapport with an underwhelming duo of quarterbacks in Rex Grossman and John Beck. But now that Moss has the electrifying Robert Griffin III as his quarterback, expect numbers more in line with what he posted in 2009 and 2010.
With continuity at quarterback and with the Redskins remodeling their offense, Moss looks primed for a great bounce back season.
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