Fantasy Football 2011: 6 Offensive Weapons Nobody Is Talking About
You know it is fantasy football season when everyone and their brothers is putting out a sleepers and busts list.
Next to standard positional rankings, sleepers and busts are the go to lists for those looking to help put together a championship squad at their draft. You could go to any of the major sports websites right now, including our very own Bleacher Report, and find tons of players that will either make or break your team.
Lost in this shuffle is a group of guys that aren't deemed the elite, but they are too well known to be sleepers.
These players have plenty of talent and would be a good addition to any fantasy football team. Yet, when it comes time to draft they are the ones that end up sliding down the draft boards in favor of those sleepers you've been dying to grab.
Let's be honest with ourselves.
Everyone here has probably read how big of a sleeper Rashad Jennings is this year thanks to Maurice Jones-Drew's bad knee.
Everyone here has also read that we might as well not even draft Peyton Hillis because he is destined to be a bust.
At least that is the way these lists make it sound.
Well here is a list of guys that you already know the names of, but nobody is talking about for better or worse.
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The Eagles have had their fair share of headlines this offseason including in the fantasy football world.
There have been dozens of debates on Michael Vick and his value. Of course, after winning the Nnamdi sweepstakes I'm sure the Philadelphia defense's ADP has climbed considerably.
Now don't get me wrong. We all know that the Eagles offense is loaded with weapons at just about every position. Anyone would love to have one of them.
But how often does Jeremy Maclin really get mentioned?
He has made a few headlines this off season, but mostly due to his unidentified illness. However, the most recent reports have him cleared for practice.
Let's ignore that for now and look at his fantasy value.
Almost any rankings you can find will put DeSean Jackson above Maclin. The stats tell a different story.
Jackson's 2010 receiving stats: 14 games, 47 receptions, 1,056 yards, six touchdowns and 96 targets.
Maclin's 2010 receiving stats: 16 games, 78 receptions, 964 yards, 10 touchdowns and 115 targets.
I can already hear you saying "Well Maclin had two more games played." That is fair. Their numbers would have been much closer had Jackson played those two games.
What is most important to pay attention to is the touchdowns. Desean Jackson is a fantastic deep threat that can give you some huge points on a big day. Yet, when it came to making that big catch in the red zone Vick was looking to Maclin.
He is still only 23 years old and can be an impressive deep threat if called upon to do so. His upside should be getting a lot more chatter than it is.
Even on this crowded offense, don't let Maclin get overshadowed.
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It's hard to believe that a top flight quarterback isn't being talked about enough, but Philip Rivers is certainly not getting the discussion that a player of his caliber deserves.
What about Rivers?
While outside of the fantasy football world there are questions about Rivers' ability to win the big games and lead the Chargers to a Super Bowl.
Fortunately for fantasy football owners, we are only concerned about the numbers he can put up.
And Rivers can put them up.
He led the league in passing yards last year and finished with a more than solid 30 passing touchdowns. Even with a lack of talented weapons around him, Rivers has proven that he has no trouble putting up big fantasy numbers.
With the questions surrounding some of this peers I would have no issues with Rivers being taken as the No. 4 quarterback or even higher in leagues that only score four points per passing touchdown.
The Chargers are going to let Rivers sling it. Don't hesitate to let him lead your team to the fantasy playoffs.
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DeAngelo Williams suffered a tough foot injury last season that only allowed him to play six games.
While that last season is obviously the freshest in everyone's mind, let's not forget that Williams put together a solid campaign in 2009 and a top flight season in 2008.
The injury concerns are understandable and justified.
However, Williams is still talented enough to take the shot on. Even with Jonathan Stewart in the backfield. Williams and Stewart have both proven that they can put up huge numbers while sharing time.
Some may say that Williams loses value with the loss of John Fox as his head coach.
The passing game of the Carolina Panthers is nothing to marvel at. Ron Rivera knows this and will certainly lean on his talented backs to take the pressure off of whichever quarterback gets the start.
Williams may end up tumbling to the third round, where if he returns to 2008 or 2009 form he could be an absolute steal.
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No one is talking about Chad Ochocinco?
Well, not his fantasy value at least.
It is clear that the receiver formally known as Chad Johnson is past his prime years. His numbers in Cincinnati have plummeted over the past few seasons.
If he was still on the Bengals I would be throwing up the red flags warning everyone to stay away. However, Ochocinco has made the move to the New England Patriots.
I'm not sure there was a better situation for him to end up in.
Ochocinco will be in an offense that will put him in the best position to succeed with whatever skills he has left. Oh and he also has Tom Brady throwing him passes.
If you need to see what Tom Brady can do for careers I advise you to look at Deion Branch's career with and away from New England.
Now what will the impact of Brady and Belichick be on a receiver as talented as Ochocinco?
Well it seems that everyone is forgetting these trends. I am not going to predict that he is able to put together a 2007 Randy Moss season with the Patriots. However, I have a gut feeling that he is going to be able to top the stats that he has been putting up for the past three years.
If he does, that easily puts him back as a quality fantasy option.
Let everyone else worry about what he is tweeting and you can worry about where you are drafting him.
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Another back that has seen his value take a nosedive due to a lengthy injury history.
Steven Jackson has been the core of the Rams offense for some time now and with that has come the bumps and bruises of being a feature back.
The future is looking a little brighter for the 28-year-old back now that Sam Bradford has arrived.
I've seen several experts label Bradford as a great sleeper candidate at quarterback. Yet no one is talking about how this will impact his starting running back.
Jackson did see his yards per carry dip a bit, but he also carried the ball 330 times last year. This was the second highest total of his career.
With the arrival of Josh McDaniels as the offensive coordinator for the Rams many are expecting the passing game to be opened up. Along with the expected development of Sam Bradford it would be a safe bet to say that the passing game will be a bigger part of the offense this year.
So how is that good for Jackson?
Jackson will be part of an offense that won't rely on him getting up and down the field. He will have fresher legs and have to take fewer hits.
At the same time he will still be Bradford's best weapon on offense. He has excellent receiving skills which will make him extra valuable in PPR leagues.
Don't ignore the potential upside of this veteran running back.
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I'm not sure that there has been a more reliable fantasy wide receiver in quite some time.
Even through being Marvin Harrison's understudy, Reggie Wayne has managed to be a productive fantasy talent for whoever was lucky enough to own him. As long as he has Peyton Manning throwing him the ball I imagine that will stay the same.
At 32 it is reasonable to think that Wayne will continue to slow down, but his stats certainly haven't suggested that.
He continues to rack up 1,000 yard seasons with ease. The emergence of young talent like Pierre Garcon and Austin Collie hasn't slowed the veteran.
There are certainly more elite options out there, but you can never forget the reliable veterans. Everyone likes to find that next be breakout star or draft the popular sleeper.
Just remember that the steady veterans will always be key pieces to bringing your fantasy team to a championship.
And Reggie Wayne fits that mold.