Shaky stud RBs, sleepers and duds

MINNEAPOLIS, MN - DECEMBER 05: Adrian Peterson  of the Minnesota Vikings rushes against the Buffalo Bills at the Mall of America Field at the Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome on December 5, 2010 in Minneapolis, Minnesota. (Photo by Nick Laham/Getty Images)

The fine folks over at FantasyPros asked me to answer a few pertinent questions heading into Week 16. My answer to the first question is below, and you can see the remaining Q&A by clicking through to the full article.

1. Give us your quick take on a few running backs that are making their owners nervous:

a) Adrian Peterson. If he plays this week against Philadelphia, how will he perform assuming Joe Webb gets the start at QB?
b) Knowshon Moreno. If he recovers and plays this week against Houston, how will he perform assuming Tim Tebow gets the start at QB?
c) Dallas Running Backs. Now that Marion Barber is possibly back in the mix, do you downgrade Tashard Choice, Felix Jones, both, or neither?

a) His matchup with the Eagles is decent, so if AP looks good at practice, it would be really tough to bench him. I have him ranked at #14 behind Blount and the Law Firm and ahead of Torain and F. Jackson. I think I’ll leave him there if he’s a go for Sunday but still seems to be favoring the injury. I think 70-90 total yards and a TD is a reasonable expectation given the circumstances, assuming he’s a full-go. There is lots of downside here, however.

b) Moreno is not a guy who has played well through injuries in the past, so I’m very leery. The matchup might seem great, but the Texans have been decent against opposing RBs this season. He has a chance to find the endzone, but I don’t think it will be a big yardage day, unless Denver really utilizes him in the passing game.

c) If Barber is a go for Sunday, it s a small downgrade to both Felix Jones and Tashard Choice, but I think Choice has passed Barber on the depth chart. He’s been too productive to turn back to Barber, in my opinion. That said, the Cowboys have really struggled in the redzone, so they may give Barber a chance at the goal line, which would cut into the value of both Choice and Jones since they have been sharing those duties.

Click here to see the full article at FantasyPros, where I identify a couple of sleepers as well as a dud for Week 16.

Follow the Scores Report editors on Twitter @clevelandteams and @bullzeyedotcom.

Rotoworld’s favorite fliers

NEW ORLEANS - AUGUST 21: Jacoby Jones  of the Houston Texans is tackled by Anthony Waters  of the New Orleans Saints at the Louisiana Superdome on August 21, 2010 in New Orleans, Louisiana. (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)

Adam Levitan of Rotoworld released his list of late-round fliers, and there are a few interesting names to be found:

1. JACOBY JONES: Kevin Walter continues to keep his nose in front as the starter, but Jones is right there.

For a guy that only had 27 catches last season, Jones had some good games. He went for 2-73-1 against Tennessee, 7-94-1 in two games against Indy, and finished with a total of 7-144-2 over the last two games against the Dolphins and Pats. Walter is better suited for the slot, but Jones has to be consistent to get starter’s snaps, especially if Owen Daniels is anywhere close to 100%.

2. JABAR GAFFNEY: Locked in as a starter and looking like Kyle Orton’s favorite target. How does he have an ADP of 160?

I’m starting to warm up to Gaffney, who continues to be Orton’s first choice in the passing game. A career filled with fantasy disappointment ensures that you’ll be able to get him late. His value is enhanced in PPR leagues.

3. KAREEM HUGGINS: He’s up to No. 2 on the Bucs’ depth chart, ahead of Derrick Ward. With Cadillac Williams still a major injury risk, Huggins should be drafted in all leagues at this point.

I was a fan of Ward when he went to TB, so I’m surprised that he’s on the outs given what they’re paying him, but there is a buzz about the ‘explosive’ Huggins.

5. MIKE WILLIAMS (TB): The rookie has drawn praise from everyone under the sun. Strong bet to lead the Bucs in receiving yards.

I reached for him in the early 10th in my industry insiders league, but I wanted to lock him up in at least one league. He’s the WR1 in Tampa Bay and Josh Freeman is a capable QB. Finishing in the top 30 is a real possibility.

7. LEGEDU NAANEE: He’s the clear No. 2 receiver in San Diego and is dropping jaws with his raw skills. Tons of upside here.

Owners are all over Maclom Floyd, But Naanee has considerable athleticism. Remember, with Gates controlling the middle of the field, the third option in the SD passing game generally doesn’t do a whole lot.

8. OWEN DANIELS: Coming off ACL surgery, he’s hoping to be cleared as soon as this week. He’s a beast when healthy and is worth a stash as well if there’s roster space.

It’s all about that knee. Daniels is in a contract year so he’s going to gut it out if he can. He’s not a bad guy to grab if you take Zach Miller or Visanthe Shiancoe later on, assuming you want to form a little TE committee.

2010 Fantasy Football Preview: QBs

GLENDALE, AZ - JANUARY 10: Quarterback Aaron Rodgers #12 of the Green Bay Packers throws a pass against the Arizona Cardinals during the 2010 NFC wild-card playoff game at University of Phoenix Stadium on January 10, 2010 in Glendale, Arizona. (Photo by Jeff Gross/Getty Images)

All 2010 Fantasy Football Articles | 2010 Position Rankings

The quarterback position is important in fantasy football, just not as important as it is in real football. Unless you play in a league that requires two starting QBs, there is plenty of depth at the position which means you have plenty of options.

Strategy #1: Draft a stud.
This is the simplest way to approach the position. Sometime in the first three rounds, pick the best QB available. This year, it appears that there are seven QBs going in the first 36 picks: Aaron Rodgers (1.08), Drew Brees (1.09), Peyton Manning (2.04), Tom Brady (3.01), Tony Romo (3.09), Matt Schaub (3.11) and Philip Rivers (3.12). These guys have a few things in common: 1) they’re good, 2) they’re entrenched in good situations, and 3) they have good receivers to throw to.

One strategy is to set aside one of your first three picks for one these players. The upside is that you probably won’t have to worry about your QB position. You’ll run this guy out there every week and won’t have to make any decisions about whom to start. The downside is that you won’t be using one of your early round picks on another position, like RB and WR, that does not have as much depth as the QB position.

Strategy #2: Wait for value to emerge.
This approach doesn’t preclude taking a QB in the first few rounds, but it doesn’t mandate it either. You might wait until the late 2nd/early 3rd and see if Rodgers/Brees/Manning are still on the board. Or wait until the 4th or the 5th and see if one of the other four players are available. If it’s the latter, then you managed to get a 3rd round QB a round or two later, which allowed you to get a stud QB and use a 3rd round pick on that RB or WR you had your eye on.

The ‘wait for value’ approach could also stretch into the middle rounds as you wait for a well-priced QB. If that value never emerges, don’t fret, because you’re still well positioned for…

Strategy #3: Quarterback By Committee
I wrote a far more detailed post about this last week, but suffice to say, with the depth at the QB position, 2-3 middle- to late-round QBs with schedules that combine well (i.e. favorable matchups line up so there’s usually a good one every week) will form a QBBC that will perform at Top 5 levels at a fraction of the price.

My top recommendation this year is to grab Eli Manning (or Matt Ryan or Joe Flacco) in the 8th, and then Ben Roethlisberger in the 10th. For a three-man combo utilizing only late rounders, grab Big Ben in the 10th, Alex Smith in the 11th and David Garrard in the 12th.

The benefit to this strategy is that you won’t lose much at the QB spot and will be able to load up with tons of talent and depth at RB, WR and even TE in the early rounds. You’ll also have 2-3 capable signal callers on the roster to turn to if one gets injured. What do you do if Drew Brees goes down?

The downside? You can go into the season with a plan, but player and defensive performance may make picking a starter each week more of a chore than you’d like it to be. This is not necessarily the right strategy for an owner who wants a low-maintenance team.

Since I’ve already written extensively about the QBBC, and you don’t have to put much thought into picking a stud early in the draft, here are a few QBs that look like especially good values, even at their current average draft positions.

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Fantasy Football: 10 Late Bloomers to Watch

Usually, the term “late bloomer” is used to describe someone that raises his level of play later than usual in his career, but in this case I’m referring to guys that have become fantasy relevant late in preseason. I wasn’t thinking about these players when I put together our fantasy football preview or even when I suggested several late round WR sleepers. These guys emerged as viable fantasy players as injuries took their toll, position battles were won and depth charts were adjusted.

Maybe it’s too late to draft these players, but they’re worth considering when scouring the waiver wire for help.

In no particular order…

1. Brian Hartline, WR, Dolphins
I really like Davone Bess and Greg Camarillo in PPR leagues, but it appears that Hartline has passed both on the Miami depth chart. This is a fuzzy, fluid battle. Hartline is a deep threat as evidenced by his 56-yard grab against the Bucs last week. Reports this week have Hartline and Camarillo rotating at flanker with the first team. Given his rise, I like the rookie Hartline here, but since he plays with a weak-armed QB on a run-oriented team, he’s only worth a flier in the late rounds. 9/7 Update: Now it appears that Greg Camarillo is the starter opposite Ginn in MIA. This situation continues to be very fluid.

2. Justin Gage, WR, Titans
3. Kenny Britt, WR, Titans
Nate Washington’s hamstring injury opened the door for both these players to get off to a good start early in the season. Britt is the high upside rookie, while Gage is the under-the-radar vet. Gage appears to be the safer option at this point, because he should still be the starter when Washington returns and has always been pretty productive when healthy. In the last preseason game, he posted 6-57-1 and looks to be Kerry Collins’ go-to guy. Meanwhile, Britt has shown flashes of excellence (like his 89-yard effort in the previous game), but he still looks overwhelmed at times. If you need help early on, Gage is your man, but Britt isn’t a bad guy to stash on your bench.

4. Shaun Hill, QB, 49ers
Now that it’s finally clear that he’ll be the 49ers’ starting QB, it’s safe to draft Hill in the later rounds. He was quite productive fantasy-wise in 2008, posting 227 yards and 1.4 pass TD over the last nine games. He also rushed for two TD. He faces an easy schedule and should have more weapons in the passing game once Michael Crabtree signs and if Vernon Davis ever reaches his potential. Hill is a sneaky good pick in the 11th or 12th round as a backup (or as part of a QBBC).

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Late-round fantasy WR gems

All 2009 Fantasy Articles | 2009 Position Rankings

In the world of fantasy football, the WR position is by nature in constant flux. Every NFL team has two starters, and the potent offenses are even capable of giving a third WR some fantasy value. This means that there are 80+ wideouts that will get consistent playing time on a weekly basis, and that provides plenty of opportunity for surprise breakout stars. Compare this to the RB position, where it usually takes an injury for a lesser-known back to get a shot. Last year, Eddie Royal, Lance Moore, Kevin Walter, Isaac Bruce, DeSean Jackson and Steve Breaston all finished in the top 30 in PPR leagues, and 2009 should have its fair share of surprises.

I listed my mid-round value WRs as part of our positional preview, but here are my top 5 late-round gems (for PPR leagues), sorted by projected value in relation to price. I’ll also list several more to keep an eye on as your fantasy draft winds down. To be eligible, the wideout has to have an average draft position (ADP) in the double digits (i.e. he’s going in the 10th round or later).

And off we go…

1. Domenik Hixon, Giants (12.07)
With Plaxico Burress sitting in court, pondering his decision to stuff a gun in the waistband of his sweatpants, the Giants have a gaping hole at WR. Hixon hopes to fill it, and he’s already shown signs that he’s capable. Over the last six weeks, Hixon averaged 4.7-59-0.2. He’s just 24, possesses great speed and is entering his third season, which is a prime time for a WR to break out. Sure, the Giants’ decision to draft Hakeem Nicks is a little worrisome, but he’s been hobbled with a bad hamstring and has a long way to go to usurp Hixon, whom I’d start to think about in round 10.

2. Davone Bess, Dolphins (16.03)
As a rookie, Bess stepped in for the injured Greg Camarillo, and posted 5.8-61-0 – that’s a 92-catch pace – over the last six games. He only scored one TD all year, so obviously he’s better suited for a roster spot in a PPR league, but he’s tough, quick and has good hands. I like Ted Ginn as well, but Bess is a better value in the waning rounds, especially since he’s still in the starting lineup despite the fact that Camarillo is healthy again.

3. Chaz Schilens, Raiders (14.10)
It’s always dicey to count on an Oakland WR, but in the later rounds, Schilens is definitely worth a flier. The Raider beat writers say that he is the team’s clear #1 WR, and he has performed well in the preseason, building on his momentum from the last two games of last season (6 catches for 98 yards and two TD against the Texans and Bucs). Schilens could be primed for the rare (but not unheard of) second-year breakout. It certainly helps that JaMarcus Russell seems to be consistently looking his way.

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