Fantasy Football 2011: 10 Guys Who Are Slipping Too Far
As preseason rolls around Thursday, it's starting to get to that time. Some leagues have already drafted (a bit too early, if you ask me), but most of you are still doing research and figuring out your strategies.
Well, based off of ESPN's standard, 10-team league scoring, these are 10 guys who are going lower than they really should. If you're lucky, you can capitalize on them and come away a big winner this year.
Note: This may change during/after preseason games, as hype rises and falls for different players. I will update this as needed.
10. Tim Hightower
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There are a few reasons that Hightower should scare you.
No. 1, he fumbles a lot, and dropping the rock is a great way to get benched (and lose fantasy points).
And secondly, he's not really a feature back, so his carries are limited.
Thirdly, he's just gone to the Redskins, where Mike Shanahan seems determined to constantly frustrate fantasy owners with his running back juggling act.
Still, he is ranked 143rd on ESPN.com. That's a full 60 spots behind Ryan Torain, the Redskins starter, and even 24 spots behind rookie Roy Helu. Why are people so sure about those guys? Helu is a rookie who has experienced a shortened off-season, and you never want to rely on a rookie anyway.
Torain is a perpetually-injured, mediocre starter who is more suited for carries between the 20's as opposed to in the red zone.
That means Hightower is getting goal line carries, and think what you want about this Redskins offense, but they're going to be there enough to give Hightower value.
9. Fred Jackson
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Freddie gets no love. He plays for an awful Bills team that will be behind a lot in games.
Never fear, though, because he can catch passes. He's a proven commodity, too, and he's more skilled than he's given credit for. He's also a better running back than C.J. Spiller, his backup, and he's reliable.
Currently, he's going around the 7th or 8th round, but he's going to give you 5th or 6th round production with a high ceiling. He did well last year with a team that NEVER got to the red zone. They were so bad, in fact, that statistically, they almost have to regress and have more chances.
You're not spending a high pick on him, but you'll get that kind of value here.
8. Pierre Thomas
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Noticing a theme here? A lot of these guys are running backs in time shares. The odd thing here, though, is that unlike the other two guys, Pierre Thomas has been very good in the past.
He was hurt last year, granted. But the year before he had 1,000 yards and 10 touchdowns. He can be inconsistent from week to week, I'll give you that, and Sean Payton is no better than Mike Shanahan in sticking with a guy.
But Pierre Thomas is skilled, if slightly brittle, and he's going at least two rounds after rookie Mark Ingram. You're getting Ingram as a starter and Thomas as a backup, but their production will be extremely similar.
And besides, when drafting towards the middle rounds, you want to go with proven players. Save the high ceiling, low floor guys for later in the draft.
7. Austin Collie
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I know, the concussions are scary. Peyton's neck is scary, too. But Manning is going to be just fine, and you need to take a chance on Collie.
Look, he could get hurt again and miss most of the season. But that can happen to anyone. Injuries are difficult to predict and he hasn't proven to injury prone yet, he just got unlucky last year.
Where you're getting Collie, you don't even have to start him, but he's a touchdown fiend that will get more looks this year as Reggie Wayne slowly starts to fade. The Colts running game isn't getting any more intimidating; this is a team that is going to throw the ball.
6. Brandon Marshall
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It's okay to be skeptical of Brandon Marshall. He didn't produce last year, plain and simple.
But consider this: he was in a new city with a young quarterback and all kinds of personal issues. The city is no longer new, the quarterback is a year older, and the issues are seemingly put to bed.
Henne has a good arm and no other real targets, plus a running attack of Reggie Bush and rookie Daniel Thomas isn't very imposing. The Dolphins will have to throw. Marshall is going to get his targets, and this year he's going to do something with them.
He's currently being drafted as 24th among receivers, despite having top 12 talent. This year you get him in the 6th round and he gives you 2nd round production.
5. Mike Tolbert
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Norv Turner has already come out and said that it's a running back duo in San Diego. Ryan Mathews isn't running the show, so why is he going so high?
Tolbert is a skilled player that has a bruising style. He is getting the goal line carries from all indications, so he's the back you want.
Look, Mathews and Tolbert will be seeing similar amounts of carries. The difference is Tolbert's will be inside the 20 and Mathews won't. Which guy would you take?
Mathews is currently going 35th, or the 17th overall running back. Tolbert is ranked 90th as the 37th overall back. Much better value in round 9.
4. Owen Daniels
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Another guy who's falling because of injuries last year. He's healthy now, but boy do people have short memories.
Two and three years ago, Daniels was nothing short of dominant. Matt Schaub looks for him as his second favorite target behind Andre Johnson. He's a good red zone target on a team that scores a ton of points and plays in a weak division.
He's currently going late in the 8th round, but he's just as safe a bet as Jermichael Finley and Vernon Davis in the 6th round.
3. Tony Romo
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So why is Romo going in the 4th round, but everyone else is going in the 1st or 2nd?
He's another guy who was injured last year, like half this list. Injuries are scary, but Romo isn't Vince Young. He's not sitting out with a bruised ego or a hurt finger. He had a serious injury last year that isn't likely to repeat itself.
Plus he has Jason Witten, Dez Bryant, and Miles Austin to throw to. He's going to put up the same numbers as the other guys, but he's going a lot later.
2. Peyton Hillis
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Madden's new poster boy hasn't gotten much love from fantasy owners. He's ranked 25th, but in some drafts he lasts until the fourth round.
Guess how many running backs beat him out last year? Three. Jamaal Charles, Adrian Peterson, and Arian Foster. But for some silly reason, Hillis is ranked as the 13th best running back on this list.
It's not because of talent, because Hillis has tons of it. He's a quick, instinctive runner with good athleticism and a physical style.
It can't be because he's a one year wonder, because Arian Foster is gone before the fourth pick, and he's only had one good year.
Most people say it's because he faded at the end of last year, but so did Michael Vick. Players get tired at the end of the season, but it doesn't make their earlier contributions any less valid.
Look, I'm not saying take Hillis in the first round. But if he's still there in the 3rd round? You'd be crazy not to take a chance on the guy, because he's better than you think.
1. Maurice Jones-Drew
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Some of you are probably in leagues where common sense prevails. If so, this last slide isn't for you. But there have been more than a few drafts where Jones-Drew has not only fallen out of the first round but has been available as late as the 30th pick.
I don't care about his knee. I don't care how small he is. I don't care that his team sucks and his style is physical and he's due for an injury.
This guy is the real deal. He's proven it time and again. He catches passes, he's a good blocker, and he holds on to the rock, so it's not like he's going to get benched.
Rashad Jennings is behind him, so he's not going to lose a starting spot.
If you're worried about his knee, don't be. Running backs get nicked up, it's part of the position. Jones-Drew plays through injury and puts it all on the line. You should NOT be seeing players like Matt Forte and Vincent Jackson going in front of him. They're good players, but Jones-Drew can win you a week.
Short memories can ruin a draft, so make sure not to forget how dominant MJD has always been. Worry about the knee next year, reap the benefits this year.