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2014 Draft Values: RGIII Bounces Back

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Will new Head Coach Jay Gruden bring out the best in RGIII in 2014? Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images
Will new Head Coach Jay Gruden bring out the best in RGIII in 2014? Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

Properly assessing the draft value of a player, in context of his peers, is the game we play in fantasy football.

Novice owners are inclined to pass on a more valuable player in favor of filling an empty roster slot, but you’re here with us on Football.com, so it’s reasonable to assume you’re not a novice fantasy owner. All that remains is identifying the players who have been looked over by conventional wisdom.

Robert Griffin III, QB, Redskins

Griffin was a bust in 2013. Head Coach Mike Shanahan and Owner Daniel Snyder made a bad season worse by making a circus out of the situation, which may turn fantasy owners off Griffin entirely. Let’s not forget that 2013 was a return-from-injury year for RGIII, and in 2014 he will have a new head coach in Jay Gruden who made a Top 12 fantasy quarterback out of Andy Dalton while in Cincinnati. Griffin also has weapons, and lots of them, in Pierre Garçon, DeSean Jackson, Jordan Reed and Alfred Morris to name a few. Griffin will be in charge of a potent Washington offense in 2014. There will be a ton of fantasy values at QB in the middle rounds of your draft, and Griffin should be among your considerations.

Zach Ertz, TE, Eagles

Ertz may be one year away from a huge breakout (attention dynasty owners), but DeSean Jackson’s departure ought to mean more targets for Ertz. Brent Celek is at the top of the Eagles depth chart for now at tight end, but Ertz was every bit as productive as Celek in 2013. Ertz is the better pass catcher, and certainly a more athletic option at tight end. Both are favorable by Chip Kelly in his offense, and I expect Ertz to be a Top 10 tight end in 2014. You should find him available after the ninth round.

Ben Roethlisberger, QB, Steelers

Roethlisberger finished as the No. 10 fantasy QB in 2013. Yes, you read that right. Emmanuel Sanders' departure may raise caution to some, but the Steelers seem very high on Markus Wheaton opposite Antonio Brown. Toss in a healthy Heath Miller, and you have the makings of a talented receiving corps in Pittsburgh. It’s likely he’ll be around in the 11th round, which will free up the top half of your draft to go after value in positions with more scarcity.

Toby Gerhart, RB, Jaguars

After spending four seasons behind Adrain Peterson on the depth chart, Gerhart finally has a starting job to himself in Jacksonville. In his tiny sample size of 36 carries in 2013, he averaged 7.9 yards per carry including an impressive 3.8 yards after first contact. The Jaguars see Gerhart as a three-down back who will wear down opposing defenses. It’s safe to expect a healthy volume of carries for Gerhart in 2014. Lacking name recognition, he could fall into the seventh round, where he’d be a great value pick.

Joseph Fauria, TE, Lions

Fauria finished 2013 with seven TDs, albeit three came in a single came. It is, however, illustrative of the point that he is a legitimate red zone target for Matthew Stafford. Brandon Pettigrew will certainly see more snaps than Fauria, but not necessarily more targets. At 6-foot-7 and possessing a basketball background, offensive coordinator Joe Lombardi sees him as a Jimmy Graham-type to target in the red zone. Fauria will likely be available in the 13th round and would be a clever snag before you get your kicker and defense.

Marcus Lattimore, RB, 49ers

Only Steven Jackson has carried the ball more among active players than Frank Gore, who turns 31 in May. The 49ers share these age and workload concerns in 2014 and beyond. Waiting in the wings is the fresh 22-year-old Marcus Lattimore. Expect Head Coach Jim Harbaugh to mix Lattimore into the offense more as Gore’s production slips. In keeper formats Lattimore is a no-brainer, but even in redraft leagues he will be taken near the 10th round.

Christine Michael, RB, Seahawks

Marshawn Lynch is another perennial stud entering 2014 with age and workload concerns. Lynch’s carries topped 400 on the Seahawks run to the Super Bowl last year, and that should open opportunities up for his backups to get more snaps as the Seahawks try to keep Lynch fresh. Robert Turbin will share those carries, but Michael is the more talented running back. If you miss on Lattimore, take a look at Michael.

Some strategy advice that may help you more than any particular player advice:

Know your entire scoring system, not just your Point Per Reception (PPR) rules, especially for quarterbacks. Your league may be assigning more value than you realize at that position, meaning you can wait longer than you think to draft a QB. If this is indeed the case, earlier round picks can be more wisely used on other positions without the depth that quarterback has. Various other modifiers and bonuses exist in leagues that may affect the value of a player, so get familiar with your unique scoring system.