Our website contributors – Dave Stringer, Anthony Fashoda, Tim Grinstead (who does more in-season writing at Fantasy Throwdown) and yours truly – each came up with our own top players to target and players to avoid lists for fantasy football, from which I summarized into two articles. This is our consensus Players To Target.
[August 14th update, here is the accompanying Players To Avoid.]
The categories are straight forward, as the players are organized into 4 Vote, 3 Vote, 2 Vote groups, plus some select honorable mentions that only received 1 Vote each. Most of the players listed are relative to their current average draft position, so keep that in mind as ADP can change between now and draft day for players, or be subject to local bias by your fellow fantasy owners.
Nary a one! With only four of us and a simple guideline to pick ten names from all significant players for the 2014 fantasy football season to choose from, perhaps this isn’t very surprising.
Michael Floyd (Dave, Tony, Mike)
From Dave, Floyd is currently being drafted as the 20th to 23rd wide receiver behind the likes of Michael Crabtree, Percy Harvin, DeSean Jackson and Cordarelle Patterson. He’s better than all of them and several other players ahead of him. Perhaps the best current value at WR based on ADP. I’ll add that I felt back in May when Dave and I discussed our initial rankings that Floyd’s ADP would rise closer to the season, but it is still at a comfortable level for an excellent return on your investment.
Jordy Nelson (Dave, Tony, Tim)
Dave has no qualms getting the Green Bay Packers top wideout and Aaron Rodgers‘ favorite player to throw to with a late 2nd round pick. Tim makes a great point that with James Jones and Jermichael Finley out of the picture, Nelson will see more targets than in the past. Tony thinks it is possible Nelson joins Top 5 WR discussion (no word yet on who falls out of the mix, however).
Philip Rivers (Dave, Tim, Mike)
Tim tells us Rivers was the number three rated overall passer by Pro Football Focus, and ranked first in accuracy last season. He tossed 32 TD and only 11 INT with no real superstars. Dave echoed Tim’s thoughts saying Rivers was a top five quarterback in almost all formats last season but is only the 14th quarterback off the board currently with a late 9th round pick. I’ll add, I continue to expect big things from Keenan Allen, and more than a few fantasy experts think Ladarius Green breaks out this year. Rivers supporting cast is improved, if anything.
Arian Foster (Dave, Tim)
This selection is our most controversial. As you’ll see in our forthcoming Players to Avoid article, Foster also received two votes there from Tony and myself. The pro-Foster camp, Dave and Tim, can’t believe this former super stud turns into a fantasy chump in one year. Their eyes light up forecasting the number of touches Foster is in line for in 2014, and they say he represents solid value in the middle of the 2nd round.
Matt Ryan (Dave, Mike)
Even saying good bye to Tony Gonzalez this year, a big welcome back to Julio Jones gives Matt Ryan one of the best WR duos in the league, plus decent third and fourth receiving options between Harry Douglas and the running backs. He’s in his prime and being drafted as about the 9th quarterback off the board, which is his floor. Great value when playing the waiting game at quarterback.
Andy Dalton (Dave, Tim)
Everybody’s favorite whipping boy was top five in most formats last season but is currently the 17th quarterback drafted, which is just too low given his weapons. When nearly every fantasy expert far and wide bashes a player, that is usually a good opportunity he’s going to exceed expectations.
Dennis Pitta (Tim, Tony)
Tim says Pitta was emerging as a top tier tight end before going down to injury last season, and he could easily fill the void that Anquan Boldin left in this offense when he departed. Tony adds that new OC Gary Kubiak relies heavily on his tight ends, and Pitta should be a primary target for Joe Flacco, especially with Ray Rice suspended two games.
Zach Ertz (Tony, Mike)
Ertz is a huge, athletic target that started coming on late last season, on a team that will run a ton of plays. Ertz and Brent Celek combined for 68-971, 10 TD last season, and now it is Ertz’s show to grab the majority of that output.
Honorable Mention (1 Vote)
Jimmy Graham (Dave)
New Orleans Saints have lots of potential at wide receiver but most of it is unproven and Marques Colston seems to be slowing down. Even if his touchdowns regress slightly, he’s still in line for lots of targets in 2014, and he gives owners a major advantage at tight end.
Dwayne Bowe (Dave)
Bowe got paid and promptly wet the bed last season but is definitely worth the gamble as the 40th ranked wide receiver based on his current ADP. There is not much competition for targets in Kansas City.
Andre Ellington (Tim)
According to Pro Football Focus, Ellington gained 47.9% of his yardage on runs over 15 yards (highest in the league), showing his breakaway ability. Add to that the 4th best elusiveness score and a top 15 all position 0.32 fantasy points/per snap, this kid has tons of big play ability. With good hands and promise of an increased workload, Ellington can pay big dividends.
Rashad Jennings (Tim)
Jennings had 2.8 yards after contact per attempt, ranking him 3rd in league, and was top 10 in breakaway percentage. He has power and speed, and David Wilson is gone. The New York Giants have done well with powerful runners with speed during Tom Coughlin’s reign. At his moderate to low ADP Jennings represents very positive risk-reward.
Shane Vereen (Tony)
Given the uncertainty surrounding the New England Patriots receiving corps, with or without Rob Gronkowski in the mix, Shane Vereen is going to catch a lot of passes. He accumulated 69 total targets and caught eight or more passes four times in only eight regular season games played last season. If Stevan Ridley struggles, which is a given, expect Vereen to take some of his workload, too.
Terrance Williams (Tony)
Williams had a strong rookie campaign and Miles Austin is out the door. New OC Scott Linehan loves the passing game, and with the Cowboys defense looking potentially record breaking bad, Dallas will be forced to pass a ton. The catches can’t all go to Dez Bryant and a trending downward Jason Witten.
Eddie Lacy (Mike)
Those following our rankings know I recently pushed Eddie Lacy into our top tier at running back amongst the big four. He deserves it. There are nothing but glowing reports out of Green Bay on Lacy, and while the Packers shifted to more run focus with Aaron Rodgers sidelined last year, they clearly love what this kid brings to the table. He’ll have even more opportunity to bolster his fantasy scoring with opposing defenses threatened by the Rodgers-led passing game.
Emmanuel Sanders (Mike)
Even if Peyton Manning regresses to a normal Peyton Manning season, there is no doubt I want a piece of this offense on my fantasy team. Across the board it is really expensive to acquire however, except Sanders. I honestly didn’t think much of Sanders in Pittsburgh, but the impression I’m getting from media reports out of Denver is the Broncos are going to prove they were right acquiring this guy. Considering the players getting drafted around Sanders, there is a ton of available upside here.