As the Fantasy Season comes to a close there will be many owners left to sulk in their regrets. Regrets of leaving Ryan Grant on your bench last week over Knowshon Moreno or sticking with Calvin Johnson even though Culpecker was throwing the ball (I made both these mistakes...ugh!). But now is the time we can focus on next year for Redraft leagues or Dynasty Leagues.
These players are going to be difference makers for teams next year. A difference maker is somebody you drafted that outperformed their draft value. I don't consider these overacheivers "sleepers" like the average sports writer does. Chris Johnson was a Difference Maker while being a 1st Rd pick...and he was by no means a "sleeper".
The main difference between a Difference Maker and a Sleeper is that you can aquire them in any round. Meaning you can look at your Redraft League from the first round to the last round. Or you can trade for a Difference Maker in Dynasty while not putting your reputation on the line for a "sleeper." After all; we each know that Pride is the real reason we play fantasy sports...not money.
Three Difference Makers:
1) Calvin Johnson:
I pick this guy every year. His rookie year he made fantasy owners salivate, last year he didn't disapoint...this year is a different story. He was drafted highly and was expected to post numbers comparative to Andre Johnson.
However; he has had a nagging injury since week five and a rookie QB (or the previously mentioned Culpecker). But he is a guy that possesses more pure talent than anybody in the league. He won't be a sleeper next year but will have a chance to be your Difference Maker.
Redraft Leagues (standard scoring 12 team leagues):
Hope he falls to you in the fourth round...possibly the fifth (unlikely...unless you play with a bunch of schmucks). Than proceed to bombard the message board with reminders of the "steal of the draft."
Trade Example: Colston and Eli for Calvin
Colston's numbers are going to take a hit from Meachem's (more on him later) emergence and Eli Manning is in the middle of a nice run but will never be consistent enough to be considered a starting Fantasy QB.
This is a trade that could potentially help both teams...and these are the ONLY trades that stand a shot at being accepted. Calvin will be a Difference Maker while Colston and Eli will be fortuante to live up to their standards.
2) Jamal Charles
The hype has already started for Charles in regards to next years fantasy output. He has proven he can do LOTS with LITTLE support from the rest of his offense. The Chiefs will not be as bad next year as this year. Cassel will be seasoned, Bowe will be back, and Chambers will spread the field deep. Charles will be titled a sleeper next year but the accurate term for him will be a Difference Maker.
If you can choose your draft position go for the end of the first round. Take Charles followed by a stud WR or a proven RB. Or flip flop that theory. If the hype is deafening to the ears you won't want to wait 'til the second round. If it's a bit hazy take the proven WR/RB first. This may seem like a reach to some people...but that's what you may have to do for some Difference Makers. Even a reach can turn into a steal.
Trade Example: Deangelo Williams and Pierre Garcon for Charles and Beanie Wells
It's going to be tough to get Charles in Dynasty Leagues. He is young and explosive. Giving up a top talent is the only way to do it. Throwing somebody in with high upside like Garcon should cause the owner to do some serious thinking of accepting this offer.
3) Robert Meachem
His first year in the league was wasted on injury, the second year he was constantly inactive, this year has been his breakout year. The Saints offense won't be slowing down. Mora has realized Henderson is not a starting WR and Meachem makes the offense more dangerous than Lance Moore does. Colston and Meachem will be like Moss and Welker...debates from both sides saying which is better.
Getting a top tier WR in the fifth round is always music to the ears...or should I say ice cold beer to the parched lips. Anthony Gonzalez was heavily targeted in the fifth to sixth rounds of leagues last year. I expect Meachem to go in similar fashion next year. Barring injury you will get production similar to a third round WR.
Dynasty Leagues :
Trade Example: Robert meachem for Chad Ochocino
Ocho has had a great year and I expect the next two weeks (@ San Diego, VS KC) to elevate his status even more. However; the guy is over 30 years old and may only have a few solid years left. Meachem will be 26 next year and playing in a prolific offense. I'm not sure I'd accept this offer if I was the Meachem owner.
If I were the Ochocinco owner I'd throw some rookie picks in (if your league does rookie drafts) or a No. 3 WR to sweeten the pot (someone that would otherwise be sitting on your bench).
There are only a few owners left standing in the current season. There are numerous owners left shaking their heads in disqust. I'll continue to post Difference Makers as this season winds down and next season draws near. Because NOBODY wants to be left shaking their heads after 16 hard weeks of mind bending decisions.