Fantasy football owners are often so obsessed with finding the next big sleeper that they overlook veterans poised to bounce back after disappointing years.
Fantasy owners have trust issues. It is not easy to trust a guy like Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Michael Vick. He let owners down a year ago, and they were forced to hunt for other options on the waiver wire and via trade.
Now, Vick and a host of other veterans are primed for massive years. Some are just finally back to full health. Others, such as Vick, find themselves surrounded by new faces who should further their own agendas.
The following veterans are ranked low thanks to bad seasons, but they should be taken well above their rankings, as big things are in store for them this year.
Note: All fantasy rankings courtesy of FantasyPros.com.
Rashard Mendenhall, RB, Arizona Cardinals
Player Ranking: 31st RB, 76th overall
At one point, Rashard Mendenhall was a sure thing with the Pittsburgh Steelers. After back-to-back 1,000-yard seasons in his second and third years, things came crashing down. It happened slowly at first, but Mendenhall hit rock bottom last year with only 182 rushing yards in six games.
Mendenhall is the perfect example of what can happen with a change of scenery. He now finds himself with the Arizona Cardinals and in a solid situation.
First and foremost, Mendenhall does not have any competition, as he is already No. 1 on the depth chart. Ryan Williams cannot stay healthy—he played in just five games last year—and rookies Stepfan Taylor and Andre Ellington are not going to be asked to carry the load.
Mendenhall looked sharp against Dallas in the preseason, rushing seven times for 32 yards. With a veteran quarterback in Carson Palmer and big targets for him to hit in Larry Fitzgerald and Rob Housler (another fantasy gem), Mendenhall will be free to attack running lanes on his way to a 1,000-yard season.
Kenny Britt, WR, Tennessee Titans
Player Ranking: 35th WR, 88th overall
Wide receiver Kenny Britt would be a legit No. 1 fantasy option if he had a quarterback who could get him the ball consistently.
The good news is Britt is healthy and his quarterback is making strides.
Britt's knee was surgically repaired after just 589 yards and four scores last season, but Jim Wyatt of The Tennessean says Britt is good to go.
#Titans WR Kenny Britt returned to practice on Thursday after missing 3 straight days— Jim Wyatt (@jwyattsports) August 15, 2013
Britt's quarterback is Jake Locker, who is entering his third season. Locker made strides in his second year but appears to have taken another step. In Week 2 of the preseason, he completed 12 of his 20 attempts for 116 yards against Cincinnati.
There is an injury risk with Britt. He also has never posted a 1,000-yard season. Still, Britt remains one of the most physically gifted receivers in the league, and he has great size at 6'3" and 215 pounds.
Britt is a good choice above his ranking. Locker is going into his third year, and Britt has something to prove heading to free agency. Expect big things.
Michael Vick, QB, Philadelphia Eagles
14th QB, 108th overall
Michael Vick's ranking implies fantasy owners do not believe he is worthy of starting, with the exception coming in deeper leagues.
That's a mistake with new head coach Chip Kelly in town.
Yes, Vick was a fantasy dud in 2012, appearing in only 10 games and mustering just over 2,300 yards passing and 12 scores. His running ability shriveled away as well, with just 332 yards and one score to his final stat sheet.
Coming into training camp, there were questions about whether Nick Foles or rookie Matt Barkley could win the starting job in Philadelphia. Those questions have been answered. Kelly named Vick the starter going into next season, per Phil Sheridan of ESPN.
I'm going to have the opportunity to do what I want to do in this offense and run the football...And yes, I will be a threat...I think you've got to take on a certain mind-set that you're going to play the game all-out...If you go into a football game not wanting to get hurt or trying not to get hurt, it doesn't allow you to play the way you want to play.
There is an injury risk with Vick, whether he likes it or not. He has not played in a full 16-game season since 2006. Now 33, Vick's body can only handle so much.
Even with the risk of injury, fantasy owners should be excited to grab Vick before his questionably low rating. Vick is finally in an offense tailored to his specific skill set instead of being stuck in an offense tailored for a pocket passer.
Expect Vick to bounce back in a major way.
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