by Eric Stashin (aka The Rotoprofessor)
We all fall victim to looking to always hit a home run with every single pick, shooting for the stars and trying to pinpoint high upside sleepers to select. However sometimes playing it safe is the best option, taking a player that carries little upside but can step into your lineup in almost every week and be productive. Let’s take a look at a few of the solid picks that may go unnoticed, but carry value:
Pierre Garcon – Wide Receiver – San Francisco 49ers
It’s easy to overlook Garcon, having made the move to San Francisco where he will have to find a way to produce despite questionable quarterback play. Would Brian Hoyer, Matt Barkley or C.J. Beathard elicit much confidence in anyone to produce?
That said Garcon is the unquestioned top receiver, and he’s consistently proven capable of being a solid producer on a weekly basis. He’s posted 100+ targets in five of the past six seasons, with at least 67 catches and 750 yards each year. Those aren’t sexy numbers, but they are solid and provides a solid weekly fill-in if necessary.
That’s exactly the draft day cost, as he’s currently the 36th wide receiver coming off the board. That’s not to say that we’d select him before players like Zach Ertz (97.0) or Devante Parker (96.4), but he’s a solid addition and the right price.
Jonathan Stewart – Running Back – Carolina Panthers
All of the hype centers around Christian McCaffrey, and there’s little doubt that he was added to play a significant role in the offense. That said, we’ve seen the Panthers deploy a running back committee before and it’s hard to imagine Stewart simply being eliminated from the offense.
According to NFL.com Stewart had:
40 red zone rush attempts a season ago was enough to rank him fifth in the NFL among running backs. And 16 of those came inside the five-yard line which was good enough for 69.6 percent of the team’s total carries in that range
Now couple that stat with this pre-draft scouting report for McCaffrey:
“McCaffrey’s size, power and speed are just average, but he is able to create yardage for himself with his vision and elusiveness.”
That seems to set Stewart up as the short yardage back once again, at the very least, and a healthy Stewart should see at least 150 carries once again. That’s a solid makeup, especially for a running back whose available potentially as a RB4 (average ADP is 105.2).
Darren Sproles – Running Back – Philadelphia Eagles
All of the attention falls on LeGarrette Blount and Wendall Smallwood, but we all know that Sproles will continue to play a key role in the offense. He’s caught at least 40 passes in each of the past eight seasons and at least 50 in six of the past seven. While Zach Ertz will be the biggest benefactor from the trade of Jordan Mathews, Sproles could also see an influx in targets. He had 71 a year ago, so if he’s back into the 85+ range look for 60 receptions and 500+ yards. Throw in a 80-100 rushing attempts, and at the very least you have a PPR monster with the potential to hold value in all formats. Considering his 146.2 average ADP, that’s a steal.
Sources – ESPN, NFL.com, Fantasy Pros
Make sure to check out all of our 2017 Preseason Rankings: