By Eric Dowdall – The Brock Press
The month of August can signify many different things; for some, it’s spent relaxing and enjoying what’s left of summer vacation. However for me, it’s preparing for my fantasy football season.
Getting off to a good start with your fantasy season is critical. Everyone who loves fantasy sports knows how important the draft is to the success of your season, and preparation is the best way to ensure success come draft day.
One of the best ways to prepare is to develop a strategy and to choose players who you are looking to target throughout the draft. In this preview, I will list some players that should not only be targeted in this year’s draft, but also those that prospective owners should be weary of.
Quarterbacks (QBs): Jay Cutler (Bears), Andy Dalton (Bengals)
The Bears added some new weapons to their offense this year, most notably Tight End (TE) Martellus Bennett from the Giants. That, combined with the addition of offensive minded head coach Marc Trestman, should launch the offense to new heights. This could greatly increase Cutler’s fantasy value.
Similarly, the Bengals spent their first round pick on TE Tyler Eifert. This adds another weapon to Cincinnati’s already underrated offensive attack that includes star Wide Receiver (WR) A.J. Green and productive TE Jermaine Gresham.
Rather than spending a high pick on a QB, use your higher picks for running backs and wait until the later rounds to grab one of the previously mentioned quarterbacks.
Running Backs (RBs): Le’Veon Bell (Steelers), Montee Ball (Broncos), Lamar Miller (Dolphins)
Running backs can be tricky when looking for breakout players, as often only the starting running back on a team provides relevant fantasy value. Miller looks to be the favourite to start in Miami, which could provide enormous fantasy value for owners.
The same can be said for Bell in Pittsburgh, which could mean a big season is in store based on the Steelers’ long tradition of being a run-first team. Bell faces a slightly different situation as he not only has to contend with Knowshon Moreno and Ronnie Hillman for touches, but also against Denver’s predominantly pass-heavy attack.
All three backs have potential to be this year’s Doug Martin, however Bell and Miller are more likely to have that breakout season all fantasy owners desire.
Wide Receivers (WR’s): Danny Amendola (Patriots), Michael Floyd (Cardinals)
While some may look to Amendola’s stats from last season as his breakout campaign, I see a much bigger season on the horizon, which will result in his true breakout. Amendola will likely be Tom Brady’s favourite target this season (aside from Rob Gronkowski), which has proven in the past to normally result in over 100 catches.
Floyd, as well, could truly be primed for a huge season. Despite playing limited snaps and dealing with horrific QB play in his rookie campaign, Floyd still managed to produce respectable numbers. With the addition of Carson Palmer at QB and Bruce Arians as head coach, combined with the attention Larry Fitzgerald is surely going to receive, look for Floyd to have a massive breakout season.
Quarterbacks: Joe Flacco (Ravens), Drew Brees (Saints)
While I believe Brees is still a top-five fantasy quarterback, I think it will be difficult for him to reach the standard he has set for himself in seasons past. Now, in his mid-30s and coming off back-to-back 5000-yard seasons, Brees is likely due to regress. For this reason I would stay away from spending the high pick required to draft Brees and wait until the later rounds to pick up your quarterback.
Flacco on the other hand should be viewed with greater caution. Flacco is now viewed by many around the league as a top quarterback, based on his recent Super Bowl victory. However, in fantasy circles he is much lower in the pecking order. Coming off a recent contract extension and losing one of his favourite targets in WR Anquan Boldin, don’t be surprised to see Flacco disappoint owners this season.
Running Backs: Frank Gore (49ers), Benjarvus Green-Ellis (Bengals), Steven Jackson (Falcons)
Despite producing over 1000 yards rushing each last season, these three backs could be in for a disappointing campaign. Gore has now surpassed the dreaded 30th birthday that normally spells doom for running backs, and with increased competition in the backfield in San Francisco, he is likely to see a decrease in his touches this season.
Similarly, Green-Ellis will probably see a drop in his touches this year with the addition of Giovani Bernard, who is another potential sleeper in the backfield.
Jackson on the other hand is likely to receive the majority of the touches in his new home of Atlanta. However, the explosive passing attack that Atlanta possesses will likely limit his fantasy value.
Wide Receivers: Eric Decker (Broncos), Greg Jennings (Vikings)
With a move from Green Bay to Minnesota, Greg Jennings will likely see his numbers drop. While he will be the sure-fire number one target with the Vikings, their inept QB play with Christian Ponder will likely hinder his ability to reach the numbers he previously did as Aaron Rodgers’ favourite target.
Decker, on the other hand, will not suffer due to lack of QB ability. His decline may come simply due to the addition of notorious ball-hawk Wes Welker. This, combined with the emergence of Demaryius Thomas, could cause Decker’s numbers to drop. Despite this, expect Decker to produce solid numbers, just not nearly to the level of last season.
These players are just a small sample of what to look for come draft day. Finding those breakout stars and avoiding those destined for disappointment can make or break your season, leading to fantasy glory or yet another season of disappointment.