by Matthew Gordan
Every draft is unique. Each one is a volatile entity that can break in any direction at any moment. No matter how much you plan, players you’ve targeted can escape your grasp. It’s easy, it happens all the time and it hurts, but that’s why we draft. It’s fun! Of course, you always have more fun when you employ players you actually like and sometime this means you have to reach in order to obtain those players. The following three players, one for each level of the draft, are choices I feel would be wise to reach for.
Montee Ball, RB (Broncos)
Once upon a time, every successful NFL player was unproven. I understand the notion that “unproven” equals risky 1st round pick, but let’s remember Ball is not some alien from outer space. Forget his illustrious college career; it means nothing in the NFL. Don’t forget the second half of last season, particularly the playoffs, when Ball was given more reps and produced.
Bottom line is Knowshon Moreno was a top five back last year. Outside of pass protection, Ball has more ability and talent than Moreno in every facet of the game. All reports from the summer claim this is no longer an issue for him or Peyton Manning, so Ball will be on the field for all three downs. Stud RBs are in short supply these days so don’t miss out on the next great one because of ADP conformity. Should be going in the top ten, if not top eight.
Emmanuel Sanders, WR (Broncos)
Honestly, I’m completely baffled by this situation. Think back over the last two years. If you wanted a Peyton Manning target, when would you have to spend a pick? The cheapest was probably Eric Decker in 2012, and his price tag was around the 4th. So why is Sanders, a very talented WR signed as a free agent, being relegated to the 7th round range?
I understand Julius Thomas has emerged as a big-time threat, but Decker is gone and Wes Welker, no matter how much it pains me to say, is a massive injury risk. You don’t just shake concussion after concussion. Cody Lattimer may be talented but he’s a rookie WR, a notoriously disappointing situation. Think of Sanders as a younger Welker with more straight away speed. This is a player who can alter your fantasy season with career numbers across the board. I think he can easily end the year as a top twenty WR.
Should be going in the 5th round, maybe late 4th for the owners who just don’t give a damn.
Okay, I’m cheating a little by going with an entire position group but every year one or two tight ends emerge and put up top ten stats. From Julius Thomas and Jordan Cameron to Rob Gronkowski to Antonio Gates, relative unknowns have evolved into stat-gobbling monsters. They’re not completely anonymous of course. Each player listed above and then some have had scouts and fantasy owners thinking and speculating about them 1-2 years before breaking out.
The lesson here is to target these kinds of players and jump a couple rounds to secure a potential fantasy all-star. It carries risk, but TE is so deep that any bust this late into the draft won’t really affect you. Players like Jordan Reed, Ladarius Green, Tyler Eifert, Dwayne Allen, Garret Graham and Travis Kelce all fit this bill. Reed is obviously going higher than the others, but spending something like a 12 on Green or Allen or Eifert may yield big results. Kelce is a personal favorite, especially for those in keeper/dynasty leagues.
Remember, risk plays a role in every draft. It’s the nature of the beast, but not every pick needs to or should carry risk that outweighs the value of the slot. Picking the moments to go over the pre-conceived value of a player can reap the benefits a “safe” choice cannot. It’s all about balancing out the risk while sticking to your gut and going after the players you believe will help you win.
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Make sure to check out all of our 2014 rankings: