One last big weekend of fantasy football drafts – if your league has waited until the entire completion of training camp to draft, then you benefit from the advantage of having a much clearer picture in regards to depth charts, injuries, and holdout situations.
Like I have said in the past – those July magazine rankings become vastly outdated by Labor Day.
Also, there are no secrets in this day of social media, and that was heavily highlighted in my most recent draft.
Here are a few samples of players you should be eying up in your drafts this weekend. Or if you have already drafted, some of these names could be hot property on the waiver wire.
Remember, the first NFL game is this coming WEDNESDAY, and there are Thursday night games all season, so get used to early waiver wire deadlines.
In my drafts, the top five have been flying off the board by the beginning of Round 2. Matthew Stafford even went at No. 11 overall in my most recent draft, so throw out the July material that had him as a third-round pick.
Once you get past Rodgers/Brady/Brees/Newton/Stafford, the No. 6 QB is quickly becoming Matt Ryan, who looks primed for a career year with Julio Jones/Roddy White. Ryan went mid-third in my most recent draft, and he has been getting a lot of recent media run by the fantasy pundits.
Luck and RG3
Since this time last year, the media splooging over Andrew Luck and Robert Griffin III has been off the charts.
The chase for the worst NFL record quickly became known as the Andrew Luck Derby, and RG3 soon joined Luck at the top of the board for the real NFL Draft, his first Subway endorsements coming not long after.
They both remain nice picks with tremendous upside in Rounds 6-7, and I don’t see a Ryan Leaf/Dan McGwire career path out of either of those two.
But neither got the memo about any possibilities of a third-party candidate.
Russell Wilson and…those other two
Russell Wilson has not only won the Seattle Seahawks starting job but done so convincingly.
Two teams desperate for a “franchise QB” that did not score one of the top two picks reached wildly. Ryan Tannehill went eighth overall (and was as high as No. 3 in some mock drafts) to Miami, while fellow Big XII QB Brandon Weeden went at No. 22 to Cleveland.
I hate to bring this to the attention of the personnel departments of two long-suffering franchises, but Bernie Kosar in his prime can not revive those teams now with their respective receiving corps. With Tannehill and Weeden both in the 6’3”/6’4”, 220 range, each passed the eyeball tests in the pre-draft evaluation process.
Meanwhile most scouts measured Russell Wilson at 5’ 10 ½” and quickly moved on, a mistake many organizations will live to regret … except for the Seattle Seahawks after selecting RW with the 12th pick in Round 3.
Wilson has a lethal combination of passing ability/mobility and intelligence (not utilized to his full advantage at NC State or even Wisconsin), and he has shined since Day 1 of mini camp, leading all NFL QBs with a 119.4 rating in the exhibition season.
What about Matt Flynn, the guy I was drooling over last January? He has been less impressive and is now dealing with an elbow injury. Plus, the Seahawks’ brass already seem ready to write Flynn off as a bad investment, so Wilson does not even have to worry about looking over his shoulder.
But Russ is no longer a secret in draft rooms — he went early Round 11 in my last draft, and the most recent QB rankings agree. Wilson is now ranked in the mid-teens alongside Luck and just below RG3.
If you drafted before Wilson blew up, make him your No. 1 priority on the waiver wire even if you are personally set at QB. If you’re lucky enough to get him, he would be an invaluable trade chip. And this time next year? I think we’re talking about Wilson as a top QB.
Another strategy is taking two of the three rook QBs in the mid-rounds. I think you will have at least a borderline QB1 out of those three.
MJD and Rashad Jennings
Just last weekend, Maurice Jones-Drew went No. 14 overall in my draft; that was way too high. Forget about him, he’s not worth the headache anymore.
All you will likely get now is watching MJD languish on your bench until your team needs that spot and you decide to drop Drew for a warm body, which at that point is when MJD suddenly caves in and on cue gets on the next plane to Jacksonville.
I call this the Michael Crabtree syndrome.
Rashad Jennings is no longer a late-round handcuff. He should be treated as a starter and deserves fifth or sixth round consideration.
Even if the MJD holdout ended today, he faces a long road getting back up to speed and faces a much-increased injury list. I will let someone else draft him. Even in Rounds 4-5, he is completely off my draft board.
The Annual Shanahan RB Fustercluck
I wish I could give you a full answer on the Washington Redskins backfield situation. This article gives a more-detailed rundown.
Alfred Morris seems like the latest candidate to go from a sixth-round pick in the real draft to short-term stardom in the Mike Shanahan system with a huge day in Week 3 of the pre-season. But Roy Helu came back from the dead with a 15-carry/90-yard performance in the pre-season finale.
Suddenly it looks like the Skins have some depth there, and Evan Royster/Tim Hightower also remain in the mix.
I would rank Alfred Morris first but wait until the later rounds (and he will be drafted), and Helu also deserves consideration. But I wouldn’t even dare trying to figure out handcuffs or make DC’s running back my centerpiece – go by your gut when trying to figure out the best option here.
If you’re thinking Week 1, Morris is probably the best bet at this point. But everyone in fantasy football knows the drill with Shanahan by now. It’s a perennial headache.
Wide Receivers/Tight Ends
Jordy Nelson remains extremely undervalued. He went early Round 4 in my latest draft. It isn’t anything that happened in camp, it is just that most don’t think he will duplicate his 2011 numbers.
Victor Cruz seems to have fallen somewhat as well for similar reasons.
I have also talked in the past about Jermichael Finley being a good fifth round value as he had fallen into the background amidst the Jimmy Graham/Gronkowski/Vernon Davis hype. Now I’m not so sure.
Finley has been banged up in camp while 2011 fifth-round pick D.J. Williams has been turning heads in the pre-season – I would keep an eye on him in the waiver wire as the year wears on.
Finley could find out first-hand the real meaning of the “Year Of The Takeover” that he has been proclaiming the past two years…