Unless you’re in a league that drafts online on a weekday, this weekend will be your last opportunity to take care of fantasy football drafts before the season kicks off Thursday night.
By now, everyone’s done their research. Most of said “research” has been done at the same places. Anyone in a league worth paying attention to has looked in on your typical sports websites and read analysis from those who get a check to talk about fantasy sports. The days of your friend’s liquored-up uncle coming to the draft with a magazine printed in April that he picked up at the convenience store on the way there are over.
Don’t worry; Uncle Steve still has his 12-pack in the cooler next to him. It just to happens to come with an iPad with a spreadsheet of every team’s depth chart. Even the most “unprepared” drafters now have a general idea of what’s going on because it’s impossible not to. Fantasy sports is ubiquitous. Between standard, daily and dynasty leagues, you could probably create an entire television network about fantasy sports.
That said, not enough articles actually give you a good idea of what to expect on draft day. These are not rankings but merely a mock of where to expect players off the board. I’m now four leagues deep, so this is as accurate a representation as possible to where the reaches come and where you can find value.
Just go to this Reddit thread and pick your favorite (NSFW language). Obviously the best ones are not fit to print, and since I enjoy my job, I shall just direct you there. But seriously. Some of you all are way too creative.
RB Adrian Peterson, Minnesota Vikings
When I ranked backs earlier this month, Peterson was eighth. Not overall. At his position. While we’ve been conditioned to consider Peterson among the elite at his position, there is much more anecdotal evidence suggesting we’ll see the former All-Pro show marked signs of regression in 2015.
Let’s start off with the obvious: Peterson basically missed an entire year of football last season. Spin that positively, it’s one fewer year of wear and tear on his body. Spin it negatively, he has not practiced his profession at the highest level in a year. At the very least, we should consider this similarly to a season-long injury.
Peterson is also 30. In the last five seasons, exactly one running back 30 or older has ranked inside the top 10 at his position in standard leagues (Fred Jackson, 2013). Ten 30-plus running backs have rushed for 1,000 or more yards in the last decade, per Pro-Football-Reference.
Peterson’s made a career out of proving his doubters wrong, but perhaps don’t use a first-round pick on him. That’s my hot take of the afternoon.
QB Russell Wilson, Seattle Seahawks
Wilson’s been nothing if not consistent as a passer. In three seasons, he’s averaging 3,316 yards and 24 touchdowns against 8.7 interceptions. He has never thrown for more than 3,475 yards or for fewer than 3,118; he’s never thrown for more than 26 touchdowns or fewer than 20; he’s never tossed more than 10 interceptions or fewer than seven.
This dude is remarkably consistent. Where Wilson derived a ton of value last season was on the ground, where he had a career-high 849 yards and six touchdowns. Unlike Robert Griffin III, Michael Vick, et al., Wilson doesn’t seem necessarily more prone to injuries due to his running habits. He’s generally a good, smart slider who maximizes gains without taking too many unnecessary hits
On the other hand, his 2015 rushing numbers were a pretty stark increase from his previous production. Wilson had 1,028 yards and five rushing touchdowns in his first two seasons. He nearly eclipsed both of those totals in 2014 alone and basically came up 10 points short of matching it from a fantasy perspective.
One of the biggest mistakes fantasy owners make is looking at one-year production rather than a larger sample. The overwhelming likelihood is that Wilson’s rushing numbers, particularly the touchdowns, are down in 2015.
RB Chris Ivory, New York Jets
Ivory has been one of the NFL‘s most effective under-the-radar backs for two straight seasons. He’s compiled 1,654 yards and nine touchdowns without touching 200 carries or posting 1,000 yards in either campaign. Of course, both saw him sharing carries, first with Bilal Powell in 2013 and Chris Johnson a year ago.
Barring a surprise, Ivory is atop the depth chart alone this season. Powell and newcomer Zac Stacy will receive carries, but the overwhelming bulk of the load should wind up on the shoulders of Ivory, who comes into this season with big expectations.
“People haven’t seen my full potential,” Ivory said, per Rich Cimini of ESPN.com. “People that actually watch the game, they know my talent and what I’m capable of. Me, within myself, I definitely know what I’m capable of. I’m striving for greatness.”
The underlying numbers say Ivory has some untapped potential. Pro Football Focus’ elusiveness rating ranked Ivory third, behind only Eddie Lacy and Marshawn Lynch. While he has marked deficiencies in other areas, PFF also ranked him the 10th-best runner overall in its grading system.
For someone who is being taken 26th in his position, Ivory’s ceiling is a lot higher.
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