Fantasy Football Truths
Last-minute tips that will win your fantasy football league: Go deep with thesesleepers
After my first column of the year detailed the true stars of the fantasy football world, some of my friends, and a few readers, gave me grief for such obvious choices. While I would argue that obvious picks win more fantasy titles than surprising ones, I could kind of see their point.
And so, this week I respond to that challenge with some deep sleepers who should be lying around on the unwanted pile at the end of your draft — or even in your league's free agency pool. These guys will be solid fantasy contributors at some point in the season, most likely down the stretch when championships are won and lost. Draft them, be patient and thank me later.
Chad Henne, quarterback, Miami: I guarantee that Henne will still be available after each guy in a 12-man league picks two quarterbacks. I know that he was awful last season, but lots of quarterbacks struggle in the early part of their career (Drew Brees, anyone?) before achieving fantasy glory.
Henne's got some three solid wide receivers along with newly-acquired Reggie Bush to rack up yards after the catch, and all of the Wildcat nonsense is out of the picture. Henne is bound for a solid season, good enough to make him a matchup play as the year progresses.
Joe McKnight, running back, New York Jets: Shonn Greene has already been banged-up this preseason, and he hasn’t exactly set the world on fire as a featured back. LaDainian Tomlinson has already conceded that he is no more than a third-down option at this point in his career. Rex Ryan isn’t the most patient coach in the NFL, so is it inconceivable that he would turn to McKnight, who was barely used as a rookie but played very well in the season finale?
I say no, and I also contend that a flier taken on McKnight could result in some big dividends down the road in 2011.
Ben Tate, running back, Houston: It’s obvious that owners of the hobbled Arian Foster should be checking out Tate as a handcuff pick. But I also think he’s a worthwhile choice no matter who your other runners are. Keep in mind that Foster has tweaked his hamstring twice already.
Remember also that Tate was drafted early in 2010 to give Foster competition for the job before an injury ended his season. Tate has looked great in the Texans’ tuneup games, and he offers more punch that veteran backup Derrick Ward. Tate running full-time in Houston’s potent offense could put up running back one numbers.
Jordan Shipley, wide receiver, Cincinnati: I personally don’t care for point-per-reception scoring systems, but if you play in one, you should really save a spot on your team for Shipley. While rookie A.J. Green will get the spotlight and Jerome Simpson turned heads with a couple big games late last year, Shipley is the guy who will likely get the most targets from rookie quarterback Andy Dalton.
And Shipley has value in any scoring system, because he’s not just a Danny Amendola type who racks up four-yard receptions. Shipley can get down the field as well, making him an excellent late-round choice.
Arrelious Benn, wide receiver, Tampa Bay: Receivers often need a year in a system to figure everything out, and Benn could be one of those candidates. He was overshadowed in Tampa Bay a year ago by fellow rookie Mike Williams, partly because of injuries that slowed him out of the gate while Williams was starring.
But Benn started to figure it out by the end of the year, posting a 100-yard outing late. This was a guy drafted ahead of Williams, so the Bucs are clearly high on him. If, as many expect, quarterback Josh Freeman makes the next step into the fantasy elite, he might just drag Benn with him.
Lance Kendricks, tight end, St. Louis: Here is one example where watching preseason games will do more for you than rot your brain cells and alienate your significant other. If you’ve seen St. Louis play, you’ve seen how Sam Bradford loves to go to Kendricks, a rookie from Wisconsin. You’ve also seen how the Rams use him almost like a wideout or a slot receiver, giving him the opportunity for more impact plays.
The tight end position is particularly deep in fantasy football this year, so I’m pretty sure you can scoop Kendricks up in the final round or two and reap the benefits.
Maybe you’ve heard of these guys and already have them on your list. Maybe you haven’t and think I’m daft. Either way, I’m giving you gems here.
It’s up to you what you do with them.