A few of mine:
Bush got off to a hot start last season before cooling off and finished with just decent #2 RB numbers. However, Detroit really likes throwing passes to RBs and Bush is at least arguably the best receiving RB in the NFL. He also figures to be their #1 RB in terms of carries (though I'd be surprised if he got much over 200 of them). Still, I could see Bush having a 800 yard rushing season with 800 yards receiving. Despite Calvin Johnson's enormous yardage last season, he only had 5 TDs, meaning that the Lions like to target other areas in the red zone. Bush is being drafted like a #3 RB but I think he could end the year as a very good #2.
A caveat- Denver is supposedly a believer in RB by committee. So I wouldn't expect Ball to get 300 carries, even though he appears for now to be their week 1 starter. Denver's OL isn't great and Denver is a passing offense. Ball is pretty unlikely to be this year's Doug Martin (though he could be if everything breaks just right).
That said, I really like Ball as a bench RB. I drafted Doug Martin late in the draft for my bench last year. I had Arian Foster, Marshawn Lynch, and Doug Martin as my first three RBs that season. I kinda killed it last year. I love taking talented rookie RBs for the bench because even if they flame out, it's just a bench spot.
Anyway, here is why I think Ball is worth the gamble. He was basically college football's version of Arian Foster. Below average speed, but outstanding vision and short area quickness with good size. A TD machine near the goal line. Even though Denver has Manning and a nice receiving corps, they were still top 10 in rush attempt rate near the goal line last season. I could see Ball posting a 3.8 YPC number this year and still getting 8-10 TDs. That is, if John Fox is smart enough to use Ball in those situations over Hillman and Moreno. Maybe I am off base, but Fox never struck me as a bright coach, so maybe he finds a way to **** that decision up. But if he doesn't, Ball could be one to watch for.
I have to believe that Ball is the guy Fox favors at this point for the #1 RB job. Ball didn't dominate the preseason or anything, but he was a 2nd round pick for Denver- the Broncos took Ball with Eddie Lacy and Christine Michael still on the board. That tells me that they are either really bad at evaluating talent, or that they really love what Ball could do for their redzone and short yardage offense. I'm guessing it's (mostly) the latter. As far as the other guys, Hillman was a 3rd round reach who's played poorly and Moreno is looking like a first round bust, one that was drafted by the previous regime. So I think its probable that Ball is "plan A" for Denver.
Ball is also a very good receiver, or at least he was in college. Maybe he turns into another Mark Ingram and busts, but I like him as a gamble. I also couldn't help but notice that Denver was trying really hard to establish the run with their starting offense when their first teamers faced ours in the preseason. Running the ball more is a good way to protect the NFL's most fragile, least elusive, most "can't afford to lose" QB.
Bernard isn't a great interior rusher, but other than that, he's strikingly similar to a young Ray Rice. Cincy is a physical team and I think it's just a matter of time before they have a real run game. Bernard was the first RB drafted in 2013 and given his explosiveness and polish I think he at least arguably deserved to be.
One way to help a mediocre QB is to add explosive weapons around him. The Law Firm will probably be the starter in week 1, but I would guess that by midseason Bernard will have taken his job and be giving Chris Johnson type performances (boom / bust). I think by the latter half of the year, Bernard will be a solid #2 fantasy RB with a chance to be great, but again I don't think there will be a Doug Martin this year.
LeVeon Bell (Steelers) might be a candidate too, but he's going to miss week 1 and I wasn't impressed with his college tape like I was with Bernard and Ball. Bell is in a similar situation to Ball but on a much worse offense.
Forte is solid and safe with limited upside, similar to what Steven Jackson was 3-4 years ago. That said, the Bears drafted some run blockers on the OL and Trestman will make that offense interesting. I wouldn't be surprised if Forte has a career year and puts up #1 RB numbers.
These guys are all lasting forever even in 10 man leagues. Which is silly. I think the reasoning is that all are seen as risky for different reasons and they also happened to be the 3 QBs who threw the fewest passes per game last season. But still, if RG3 stays healthy, if Wilson/CK put up their 2nd half numbers all year- you are looking at fantasy QBs one through three last season. In fact, you could draft RG3 in the 5th round then grab Wilson a couple rounds later to cancel out the risk.
Tom Brady is a solid value buy as well, but there are reasons for it. He's not a sleeper, but I'd buy high on Drew Brees and Peyton Manning depending on how the board falls in rounds 2-3. Brees had a "down" year last year and still finished #1 in fantasy (IIRC), and he's getting Sean Payton back. And they have a lot of "shootout" type games on their schedule (ATL, SF, SEA, etc).
Jordy Nelson missed time from injury last year and is going in the 50s in my mock drafts. His previous season when fully healthy, he had 18.6 yards per catch. Even in 2012, a down year, he had numbers almost identical to Golden Tate. Green Bay lost Greg Jennings this offseason and didn't really do much to replace him. Their running game, Lacy or not, is still going to suck. That means they are going to bank hard on the 1-2 punch of Cobb and Nelson, with Cobb being the Harvin-type short yardage guy to draw the safety up and Nelson being the Stephen Williams-type to kill them deep. I think a 1500 yard season is not out of the question for Nelson, if he stays healthy. Which is pretty good for a 5th round pick.
I think Pete will trust Hauschka more with long kicks this season after Hauschka killed it this training camp / preseason. Hauschka is going undrafted in a lot of leagues, but he really, really shouldn't. Also, the best fantasy kickers tend to play on the best offenses, and Seattle has an elite offense.
I could probably name 20 more, but I wanted to leave some for the rest of you guys if you wanted to chip in.
Last edited by kearly
on Tue Sep 03, 2013 8:17 pm, edited 1 time in total.