Fantasy Football 2013: Top Buy-Low Candidates to Snag in Your Draft
It always seems as though there are significant changes in the fantasy draft value of certain players once the regular season creeps closer. That is once again the case this year as the final marketplace is becoming clearer. Wild swings in average draft position are a good gauge of how other owners feel about certain players, but they shouldn't necessarily scare you away.
Fantasy football is a lot like the stock market in that it's usually a good idea to buy low and sell high. It's always risky to invest heavily in a player when people start jumping on his bandwagon right before the season. Conversely, it's almost always a good idea to take a talented player whose stock has dropped due to the fact that it costs a lot less to get him.
Here are three players who have been dropping significantly in fantasy drafts as of late and should find themselves on your team due to the value that comes with them.
So many fantasy owners have been burned by San Diego Chargers running back Ryan Mathews over the past few years that it should come as no surprise that his draft stock has slipped significantly this season.
According to ESPN.com, Mathews is being drafted around No. 67, which makes him a late seventh-round pick in standard 10-team leagues. In fact, over the past week, his draft position has dropped by more than four spots, so it's safe to say that owners are doing everything possible to avoid taking him.
It's difficult to blame owners for thinking that way as Mathews has been unable to stay healthy and has yet to live up to his immense potential, but for the first time in his career, the price is actually right.
Based on where Mathews is being selected currently, he is most often a No. 3 running back, which means he's either a backup or flex play in most leagues. It's much easier to stomach the injury risk when the expectations are lowered. On top of that, Mathews looked great during the preseason and head coach Mike McCoy likes what he has seen, according to NFL: Around The League.
McCoy: The way Ryan Mathews is running is "what we're looking for in a back" http://t.co/qRC827n1r9— NFL: AroundTheLeague (@NFL_ATL) August 16, 2013
Mathews averaged 4.7 yards per carry in the preseason with one touchdown. Since the Chargers have a lot of question marks at wide receiver, McCoy is likely to lean on Mathews early and often. Mathews missed just two games in 2011, and he ended up with more than 1,000 yards rushing, 50 catches and six touchdowns. If Mathews can avoid the injury bug in 2013, he should eclipse those numbers, which makes him well worth a seventh-round selection.
Jacksonville Jaguars wide receiver Justin Blackmon entered the league as one of the most hyped fantasy rookies in recent memory last season, and while he didn't put up Randy Moss numbers, he was certainly a serviceable player. Blackmon ended his rookie campaign with 64 catches for 865 yards and five touchdowns, so one would think that fantasy owners would be jumping at the chance to select him. Due to outside circumstances, however, Blackmon's value has taken a major hit.
Which buy-low candidate will have the best 2013 season?
Blackmon is suspended for the first four games of the regular season, according to the Associated Press, for violating the NFL's substance abuse policy. It's certainly natural that Blackmon is being taken later with that hanging over his head, but it doesn't necessarily make much sense. Since Blackmon would have been taken as a No. 3 receiver at best with or without a suspension, he wouldn't be needed on most fantasy teams through the first four weeks anyway.
By the time most starting receivers have their bye week, Blackmon will be back in action, and it's certainly possible that he'll be putting up huge numbers. Blaine Gabbert certainly isn't an ideal quarterback, but he and Blackmon seemed to have good chemistry during the preseason. Also, the Jags were able to support two solid fantasy receivers in Blackmon and Cecil Shorts last year, so that isn't likely to change.
According to ESPN.com, Blackmon is being selected at around pick No. 140 in standard drafts, and his average position has dropped by 2.6 spots over the past week. Blackmon is far more talented than many of the receivers being taken ahead of him, so there's no reason to bypass him late in your draft.
No running back situation is messier than that of the Denver Broncos. It's quite a quandary as whichever back receives the bulk of the playing time is going to be a worthy fantasy starter. Rookie Montee Ball has gotten much of the love in terms of draft status, and veteran Knowshon Moreno is being taken in most leagues as well, but neither of them will open the season as the starter. According to Michael Fabiano of NFL Network, second-year man Ronnie Hillman is currently slated to line up behind quarterback Peyton Manning on Thursday against the Baltimore Ravens.
The Broncos have Ronnie Hillman listed as their RB1. Montee Ball is RB2. This will be an RBBC to start the season. pic.twitter.com/ZYMwtTshGV— Michael Fabiano (@Michael_Fabiano) September 1, 2013
It is somewhat of a surprising move by head coach John Fox as Hillman fumbled three times during the regular season, but it's clear that he has a lot of belief in the diminutive spark plug. Hillman served primarily as a backup last season, and he ended the year with 330 rushing yards. He also caught 10 passes, which is a number that should increase with more playing time as he has shown himself to be a capable receiver. With so much attention being paid to Manning and the receivers, Hillman will have a golden opportunity to put up some solid numbers if Fox sticks with him.
It wouldn't be a particularly good idea to take Hillman as a starter or even as your third running back, but based on the fact that he is being selected at the beginning of the 14th round on average in ESPN.com standard leagues, his price tag is unbelievably enticing.
Also, Hillman's draft slot has dropped nearly 19 spots over the past week, which is bizarre since Fox named him the starter. Hillman is far from a sure thing, but there is no way you should let a starting running back slip past you that late in the draft.
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