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Some guys have hot names and people are drawn to them. Guys like Manziel and Sproles are seemingly being drafted more off name recognition than based on what their expected level of performance should be in 2014. Flip that coin over and players like Decker, Starks and Kelce might be getting too little push as many just pass by their names without much thought. Ray Flowers takes a look at these names, and more, through the lens of Average Draft Position (ADP).
Which players, at the difference sites, have different ADP values? Let's explore.
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Johnny Manziel, Browns 141.8 (FFC), 140.8 (MFL), 169.0 (NFFC)
How often do rookie QBs make a big mark in the fantasy game? If by big we mean top-10 type of effort, rarely if ever. How many of those signal callers make it big when they don't have weapons to throw to? We still don't know how long Josh Gordon will be suspended, but it's likely to be a significant hit. That leaves the pass catching wideouts for the Browns as follows: Miles Austin (can't stay healthy), Nate Burleson (aging and injured), Andrew Hawkins (exciting but 5'7”, 180 lbs) and training camp hero Charles Johnson. Are you seeing anything to get pumped up about there? Oh yeah, we still don't know when Manziel will be given the keys to drive the Browns bus. Why he is being taken ahead of guys like Ryan Tannehill, Carson Palmer, Joe Flacco and Eli Manning makes no sense to me.
Darren Sproles, Eagles 77.2 (FFC), 112.6 (MFL), 85.8 (NFFC)
Sproles has 11 rushing scores... over eight NFL seasons. He won't get the ball at the goaline with LeSean McCoy around. Sproles has never had 95 carries in a season. He won't for the first time this season with LeSean McCoy around. Sproles has twice scored seven times as a receiver in the last four years, but he's also had two seasons in four years of two scores. He'll have a role, he might be able to post a 4th straight 70 reception season (maybe), but why are people drafting him over guys like Danny Woodhead, Terrance West, Bernard Pierce, Fred Jackson and Darren McFadden? I just don't get that.
Darren McFadden, Raiders 108.9 (FFC), 133.4 (MFL), 116.0 (NFFC)
DMC has looked sharp this preseason. Hyperbole? Perhaps, but here is what HC Dennis Allen said. DMC “is probably running the ball as well as I've seen him run it since I've been here." McFadden is still one of the, top-15 backs in football in terms of his overall game. He has power, burst, lateral agility. He can move the pile, dart around the end or catch the ball out of the backfield. He also runs upright which can expose him to hits, and he has a maddening inability to remain on the field. However, he looks sharp (stop me if you've heard that before). For now he's healthy. The team brought in fading star Maurice-Jones Drew who appears to be in the lead for early down work, but we're leaning toward accepting McFadden as a legitimate 3rd down option for the Raiders, one that has the added bonus of potentially being the Raiders' goaline back. McFadden's a prime target as your RB4 where he could offer a significant return.
James Starks, Packers 157.0 (FFC), 223.2 (MFL), 208.9 (NFFC)
Do you even remember that he's in the NFL? Based on his ADP numbers it's clear that opinions differ wildly on Starks. The bottom line is this. He's a handcuff only. He doesn't appear to have any standalone value as he will need an injury to Eddie Lacy to do anything of note in 2014, but don't forget about him. Starks would certainly take over as the lead back with an explosive offense if Lacy were to go down and don't forget that Starks averaged 5.5 yards a clip last year and over 322 career rushes he's gone for 1,427 yards (4.4 YPC).
Eric Decker, Jets 89.4 (FFC), 77.1 (MFL), 74.9 (NFFC)
Someone has to catch the ball with the Jets. As it stands the team has an underwhelming tight end duo of Jeff Cumberland and Jace Amaro. Chris Johnson and Bilal Powell can catch the ball out of the backfield if need be, but neither is dynamic in that aspect of the game. At wide receiver names like Stephen Hill, Jeremy Kerley, Jacob Ford, David Nelson and Greg Salas dot the landscape. Yeah, nothing much. That leaves Decker to be the main target, and a potential target hog at that. Decker could see upwards of 10 passes a week, and with a volume of pigskin that high he's got a strong chance to at least be a WR3 in fantasy. He's being drafted at that level right now, but do you ever hear anyone happy to say the name of Decker? Maybe you should be more excited to call out his name.
Tavon Austin, Rams 109.9 (FFC), 105.7 (MFL), 112.1 (NFFC)
Austin was a wasted pick by the Rams last season at #8 overall in the NFL Entry Draft. He was overdrafted in all fantasy leagues last season based on his perceived potential. No one seemed to notice that at 5'9”, 175 lbs, Tavon was really nothing more than a gimmick option. How many players at his size have ever excelled at the NFL level at wide receiver? Still waiting on an answer. Austin caught 40 balls for 418 yards and four scores. The numbers will improve this season, but even if they go up by 50 percent, which I find a highly dubious position to take, he's still only go for 60-632-6. Those numbers still wouldn't make him a weekly play. Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me.
Cecil Shorts, Jaguars 121.2 (FFC), 118.1 (MFL), 102.9 (NFFC)
Shorts has missed six, two and three games in his three NFL seasons. He's dealt with concussion and leg woes in a nearly unending stream of injury. Back from a hamstring injury this summer, it's only a matter of time before he goes down with another issue, at least that is the prevailing wisdom. Still, it should be noted that from Weeks 2-13 last year, in a PPR setup, that Shorts was the 25th ranked wide receiver in football. With Justin Blackmon suspended and Allen Robinson missing weeks with a hamstring injury of his own, the top-2 options for the Jaguars out wide appear to be Shorts and Marqise Lee, the rookie out of USC. If, and that should be in like 24 font, IF Shorts can stay healthy he will be a value add given the draft day cost.
Travis Kelce, Chiefs 153.4 (FFC), 182.3 (MFL), 243.6 (NFFC)
Dwayne Bowe was suspended for a game for being a jack-off. Donnie Avery simply isn't very good. A.J. Jenkins and Junior Hemingway don't appear to be ready for prime time. It's really Jamaal Charles or bust for the Chiefs offense. With Alex Smith at the helm, there will also be limitations with the offense as he simply cannot challenge players downfield with his arm. This sets up nicely for Kelce to have some decent value this season. Kelce has looked good in camp, and through two games he's caught six balls for 136 yards and two scores. Nine months removed from microfracture surgery, Kelce is a TE2 breakout candidate in an offense that must throw him the football.
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