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Many of you associate the “Week That Was” with fantasy baseball. Fair enough. However, times they are changing. Week That Was right here at Fantasy Alarm is turning to football. The only question is whether I can talk the Baron of the Bottom of the Page, the Carlton the Doorman of fantasy sports to tell us what Schultz Says in our football offering. Tweet me @glenncolton1 if you want the ramblings of our favorite Cleveland sports fan so I can use your thoughts to talk him into it!
Without further delay, here is the Football Preseason That Was
Doug Martin: There is no question that 2013 was a fantasy football disaster for all those who spent a first round pick on the Tampa RB. If you got burned, so be it. Forget it. Whether you drafted Martin last year is irrelevant. The only question is what will he do this year? Well, he seems healthy and there is every reason to believe that his shoulder is fine. However, two things happened this spring that should catapult Martin into at least the second round of drafts. First, Charles Sims, and to a lesser extent, Mike James, got hurt. Second, coach Lovie Smith announced that Martin will be his “bell cow” – odd phraseology but music to the ears of those who seek out a true RB1. Team Colton and the Wolfman drafted Martin with pick 20 of the SiriusXM Fantasy Sports Radio host expert league this week so we are putting our proverbial money where our mouths are.
Miles Austin: Unless you have been living under a rock, you know that Gordon’s year-long suspension was upheld. If you already drafted Gordon, take solace in the fact that it was a good risk and then move along. The bigger question is who will emerge as the WR1 in Cleveland. My vote is for Miles Austin. Team CTW has grabbed Miles Austin very late in two “expert” drafts. If, and yes it is a big IF, he stays on the field, he will be a very good receiver given his substantial track record of success. Given his cost, you too should be targeting the former Cowboy wideout late in your draft. No matter who ends up taking more snaps under center for Cleveland, they will need an experienced target they can count on. Austin could well be that guy now that Gordon is hoping against hope just to play in Canada.
Ray Rice: Staying with the suspension theme for a moment, unless you are still under that aforementioned rock, you know that Ray Rice will miss the first two games of the season under suspension. Does this diminish his value? Yes, but only a little. Remember last year, when a two game suspension drove Josh Gordon’s ADP way below his actual value? Rice is a prime candidate to be similarly undervalued. I do not buy into the idea that Bernard Pierce will take the starting job and keep it. I just do not. Also, pundits are conveniently forgetting that Rice was a top 5 pick just a year ago, is only 27 years old, is healthier than he was last year, and has something to prove. If you can grab Rice in the 4th or 5th round, do it – especially in a PPR league. Lost in all the talk of how badly Rice flopped last year is the fact that even in that bad year he had almost 60 catches. Bottom line: You can rarely find potential first round talent in the 4th or 5th round so why not take a calculated risk with huge upside?
Robert Griffin III: There have been more stories than I can count about how RGIII is having a bad preseason. Will that carry over to the regular year? Honestly I do not know. In all candor, I put very little stock in preseason performance. The bigger risk and question comes from whether he can become a proficient pocket passer. Why you ask? Good question. Here is the answer: There are only three possible RGIII outcomes: 1) he learns to be a stay at home passer and exceeds his draft value; 2) he stays in the pocket but fails to succeed; or 3) abandons the attempt to stay home, runs around and gets beat up as he has since the playoffs at the end of the 2012 season. I just do not like the odds here and think you are far better off with RGIII as QB2 in all but the deepest of deep leagues.
Justin Hunter: Those who have read the Fantasy Alarm Draft Guide (if you haven’t shame on you and see the bottom of this article for a link) know I believe that 2 is the new 3 or, stated another way, that 2d year is when WRs are more likely to break out. Hunter is a very good bet to follow in the footsteps of Alshon Jeffrey and become the next big target, Red Zone magnet second year breakout. He has already posted that monster preseason game that I wish he hadn’t because it has made it impossible for team CTW to repeat what we did at the FSTA draft in June and grab Hunter late. He is going much earlier for good reason. This guy just looks like he is ready to breakout. If those at your draft table do not realize it too, pounce.
Sam Bradford: In what is just awful setback for Bradford, he will miss yet another year with a torn ACL. One has to feel terrible for him after he worked his way back from last year’s ACL tear. However, from a fantasy perspective, this is of little moment. Bradford was nothing more than a low end QB2 and was probably not drafted at all in 10 team leagues. The real story here is the potential effect on two players – Zac Stacy and Kenny Britt. As for Stacy, the talk of no Bradford lowering his value is just noise. After all, wasn’t Stacy great without Bradford last year? As to Britt, I do think this takes the bloom off the rose a bit. He has not worked with Shaun Hill nearly enough and there will be a greater tendency for the Rams to run, run, run without Bradford.
Le’veon Bell: Forget about the off-field nonsense. The bigger fantasy football issue for the Steeler RB is the role of LaGarrette Blount. Even Bell himself came out and said that Blount will get the goal line carries. Not good. When you add the negative information on role, the fact that we saw last year in New England how Blount can dominate a game from time to time and the fact that Bell has a dicey health record stretching back to college, you have every reason to drop Bell down your board a bit and invest in a safer, established RB1. You heard it here.