By Jake Ciely
Favorite/Best – Stevan Ridley: With the loss of Aaron Hernandez, people want to give all the catches to Shane Vereen but ignore the Patriots being one of the best rushing teams in the league last year. I expect double digit TDs and 1,300 yards for Ridley. Well worth an RB2.
Underrated – Lamar Miller: He shot up boards, now falling back. He will be the lead back in Miami and is super talented. I see a Top Five season for him.
Overrated – Darren McFadden: Injury prone, one of the worst teams in the NFL and on a team that will likely be down in a lot of games. Color me skeptical he performs.
Harvin – With news of the surgery and being out 3-4 months, he drops out of the Top 100 altogether. Essentially, Harvin becomes a late round redraft flier.
No. 5 Overall – I'll say Calvin Johnson!
Favorite/Best – Rob Gronkowski: He'll win titles for people who get him in the third round this year. Whatever missed games you have to absorb at the beginning of the season are easy to cover with the depth at the position this season. Gronk is the most valuable player in fantasy football when healthy, and he'll be healthy soon.
Underrated – Frank Gore: Since I can't pick Gronk twice, I'll pick Gore as most underrated. The 49ers run offense is one of the best in the league, and without Michael Crabtree, the team will probably become even more conservative. While Gore won't get quite the same workload as first-round RBs because the team will want to keep him fresh for a likely postseason run, the efficiency of his running game will make him an RB1 in non-PPR leagues.
Overrated – Aaron Rodgers: There's just no reason to take Rodgers unless he falls to about the fifth round. The spread between QB1 and QB8-12 is as small as it has ever been, so savvy drafters will be waiting until at least 5-6 QBs are off the board before taking theirs.
Harvin – The range of possibilities for Harvin right now seems to be from playing with some limitations all season to missing the whole season. I would expect that he won't have the most severe variety of surgery, and at worst miss half to 2/3 of the season. I still think there's around a 50/50 chance that he just plays through the injury. I would take him around the 9th-10th round. (Editor’s Note: This was pre-surgery news.)
No. 5 Overall – I'll guess Jamaal Charles. I would expect Peterson, Martin, and Foster to be the top three, with everyone's 4-8 differing.
Kevin English Draft Sharks
Favorite/Best & Underrated – Lamar Miller: Miami’s dashing new starter is deservedly shooting up draft boards. He’s showed a dedication to his craft this offseason by working out with – and impressing – Frank Gore. He’s now flashing A+ pass protection skills in training camp, all but cementing a three-down role. Mix in the 22-year-old’s game-changing wheels, and you have a definite breakout candidate.
Overrated – Stevan Ridley: Ridley popped in 12 rushing TDs in 2012, finishing as a Top 10 non-PPR RB. But this is a new season, and an ultra-talented RB lurks behind him. Shane Vereen, now healthy, isn’t the chronic fumbler that his teammate is. Vereen is clearly a superior receiver, too. He carries the potential to significantly eat into Ridley’s fantasy upside.
Harvin – The current estimate has Harvin back on the field for the last few games. Given that scenario, we have him ranked 109th among WRs. Obviously, he’s no more than a potential in-season waiver wire add.
No. 5 Overall – Calvin Johnson
Tony Holm Fantasy Sharks
Favorite/Best – Larry Fitzgerald or Peyton Manning: You have to respect how Larry Fitzgerald has established himself as one of the premier receivers in the league with numbers that arguably don't support that status. His wide receiver camps that other top receivers attend if they want to get better, smell so much like how the great one, Jerry Rice, would give back to his sport. It's like we all know that Larry Fitzgerald is the best, we give him that nod, and if he only had a quarterback, we'd be drafting him like we do Calvin Johnson today.
Underrated – Cam Newton: In many formats, especially those that reward rushing yards and touchdowns, Newton should be the first quarterback taken off the board; ahead of such nameplates like Aaron Rodgers and Drew Brees. Those that wait a few rounds and nab Newton after all the top names are gone, may very well have themselves the top quarterback in the draft for less of a price. If you do get a healthy dose of points for rushing, look no further than Cam Newton.
Overrated – DeMarco Murray: Murray has a glass jaw, wears glass slippers and lives in a glass house with a hailstorm approaching on the horizon. Rookie runner Joe Randle has missed a lot of camp and is far behind so early on, he won't mount much of a threat to Murray but somewhere down the line, Randle will make an intriguing start for the Cowboys who like to fiddle with their starting lineup.
Harvin – After he elected to have the surgery, he has been removed from our projections.
No. 5 Overall – Calvin Johnson
Favorite/Best – Lamar Miller (5), Stevan Ridley (4), Larry Fitzgerald (3), Rob Gronkowski (2), Roddy White (2).
Miller led the way with five votes, and it’s not surprising give his ADP trend. Over the last month, Miller’s ADP has risen from 3.09/3.10 to around 3.03/3.04. Not a drastic jump, but he’s nearing Round 2, and I’ve seen him taken late in the second multiple times. Like David Wilson, Miller has a high ceiling, but carries risk. The one area in which Miller has an advantage is competition. Andre Brown is a serious threat to Wilson’s value, but Daniel Thomas is far from a threat to even a scared newborn kitten… Ridley receives a decent amount of love too, but I wonder if the experts’ tunes would change after hearing about his fumbling issues again this week… Fitzgerald actually has a player worthy of being called a quarterback, but can we assume Kurt Warner at QB type numbers?… Gronk and White check in with two apiece. I still can’t rank Gronk higher than fourth at tight end until we hear some definitive news about his health/readiness for the season… As for White, why is his sliding? If anything, Steven Jackson arriving makes the passing game that much more of a threat.
Underrated – Darren Sproles (6), Lamar Miller (3), Stevan Ridley (3), Victor Cruz (3), Cam Newton (2).
Sproles ran away (or should I say, caught a screen and ran away) with this one. I couldn’t agree more with Sproles, as under Sean Payton, Sproles was a mid-to-high RB2 in standard leagues… Miller and Ridley see even more love with three votes – giving them eight and seven, respectively, between Favorite and Underrated… Cruz is an interesting choice. The man is a serious weapon for the Giants, but I have concerns that he might decline a bit if Hakeem Nicks is healthy this year… ah, who am I kidding… Nicks? Healthy?… Cam gets two votes, but you’re about to see why I’m not on board with that one.
Overrated – Aaron Rodgers (6), Stevan Ridley (2), DeMarco Murray (2), Chris Johnson (2), Darren McFadden (2).
Rodgers blew everyone away here, and back to Cam, Mike Clay’s point and everything else we tell owners this year: wait.on.quarterbacks. The position is as deep as ever, and there is no reason to jump early when there are more significant drop-offs for production at receiver and especially running back. I just took Drew Brees in the fifth round of a draft recently, and while that goes against everything I believe, it just shows how much we “experts” refuse to take QBs early… Ridley is the only player showing up in the Underrated and Overrated multi-pick portion. You’ve already seen my concern above… CJK and DMC, while having cool initial-type nicknames, have disappointed owners plenty. I actually think they’re ranked fairly, as both have upside to out-produce their cost but the known risk that they could underperform… again.
No. 5 Overall – C.J. Spiller (7), Calvin Johnson (6), Jamaal Charles (3), Ray Rice (3), Marshawn Lynch (1), LeSean McCoy (1).
Spiller had the early lead, but Johnson saw a few late votes to make it close. I was a bit surprised that two players came close to each other while also distancing themselves from the rest. I’ll give you a hint, player No. 5 is listed here, but which one is it? Check back next week for the Top 20 to find out!
Lamar Miller is going to shine baby!