Fantasy Top 100: The Experts' Top 80-61
By Jake Ciely
Time for Part 2 of the Fantasy Top 100. We are starting to see more players as both an overrated and underrated pick for experts. I was a bit reluctant to publish this week’s piece as many of my favorite underrated picks for 2013 all check in this go around. Maybe my competitors won’t read my wrap-up at the end. Shh… don’t tell them!
Favorite/Best – Tony Romo: The best value out of this bunch is a guy I've been harping on for a few weeks now: Tony Romo. He is being taken as a QB12 on average across multiple websites, making him the best bargain in fantasy football. You are getting a consistent fantasy performer who has finished in the Top 10 in his last three healthy years, and you are drafting him in the sixth round or later. Romo is the prime example of why you should wait to take your starting quarterback.
Underrated – Cecil Shorts: People are practically forgetting about Cecil Shorts, who finished as the WR22 in standard leagues last year despite having Blaine Gabbert and Chad Henne at quarterback. He should, at the very least, have a nice start to the year without having to contend with Justin Blackmon for targets for the first four games. He is a powder keg at the position, and he is barely being drafted as a WR3.
Overrated – Ahmad Bradshaw: The Colts did a good job shoring up that running back position when they signed Ahmad Bradshaw, who was sitting by the phone for months waiting for a call. But, is he going to deliver. He did a good job for the Giants last season when healthy, but he is one misstep away from landing on the injury report for half the season. Vick Ballard is also around to steal plenty of playing time. I just don't trust Bradshaw as a flex option.
Favorite/Best – Matthew Stafford: Stafford surpassed 10,000 career-passing yards a season ago, a milestone he reached in just 37 games (only Kurt Warner, who needed just 36, did it faster) and there's room for growth. Despite ending up 33 yards short of becoming the first player to pass for 5,000 yards in successive seasons and leading the league in completions, Stafford's overall efficiency ranked 22nd. He also had some things working against him last season: An injury-depleted group of wideouts; his tight ends struggled to produce; and the Lions’ rushing attack never posed a realistic enough threat to keep opposing defenses honest. Still, the talent and the ability to generate big chunks of offense in a hurry are still there. As the Sports Xchange put it, "Throwing for (nearly) 10,000 yards and 61 touchdowns in two seasons is no joke." I'm not laughing. ... Having Calvin Johnson (and now Reggie Bush) on board doesn't hurt him either. I'm drafting Stafford ahead of all the other QBs in this group this summer.
Underrated – Cecil Shorts: Talk about the potential for a great value play. ... Although he didn't even start the first five games last season – and missed two games to concussion – Shorts jumped still managed to catch 55 passes for 979 yards and seven touchdowns (pulling in at least one TD per week over a four-game stretch). He'll be the Jaguars' go-to threat through at least the first month of the season until Justin Blackmon returns from suspension. The biggest question mark for Shorts is his QB; but wasn't that the cast last year? AP sports writer Mark Long isn't worried. In fact, Long expects a big jump for Shorts this year. How big? Long is predicting 80-plus catches, 1,200 yards and eight TDs this season. If Shorts comes even close to that, he'll provide the best value of anybody in this bunch.
Overrated – Jonathan Stewart: Not sure there's anybody in this group I like less. ... Stewart, who missed seven games last year with ankle injuries, underwent arthroscopic surgery on his left ankle early this offseason. As of early July, HC Ron Rivera still wasn't sure if Stewart would be ready for training camp. This, of course, is nothing new. Health has been an issue throughout Stewart's career. And when he's healthy, he has to contend with a rotation that includes DeAngelo Williams and Mike Tolbert – but which is led by QB Cam Newton, who was the team's top rusher last season. Given the general circumstances in Carolina, specifically the team's commitment to a committee approach whether Stewart is healthy or not, the former first-round pick is on my "Ten-Foot Pole List" (comprised of guys I wouldn't touch with yours).
Favorite/Best – Mark Ingram: It boggles the mind why some in the ‘expert’ community continue to throw support behind a committee RB who’s offered minimal excitement. About as flavorful as tofu, he’s averaged a terribly bland 3.9 yards per carry in two seasons. With Pierre Thomas and Darren Sproles in the mix, and considering Ingram logged just 10 carries inside the 10 last year, he’s a mediocre bench back in a pass-often offense, nothing more. The thought of double-digit TDs and 700-plus rushing yards is utter madness.
Underrated – Colin Kaepernick: After overtaking Alex Smith midseason, St. Nick delivered numerous gifts to good little fantasy girls and boys. As a starter, his 25.6 fantasy points per game average (playoffs included) in standard formats (four points/pass TD) was Top Five worthy. Critics will point to the lack of vertical threats, particularly with Michael Crabtree crippled, but his accuracy and opportunistic execution on the ground in a run-first, read-option offense are very appealing. QB may be deep, but the Niner is pure gold anytime after pick No. 50.
Underrated 2 – Rashard Mendenhall: Ignoring his random government conspiracy theories and strange desire to copulate with books (follow the man on Twitter), Mendy is a strong bounce-back candidate. Arizona’s offensive line, arguably the league’s worst last season, should be much improved. Left tackle Levi Brown is finally healthy and rookie addition Jonathan Cooper has the look of a future All-Pro. Toss in his previous top-seven success with Bruce Arians while in Pittsburgh, unintimidating competition and Carson Palmer’s influence, and you’re looking at a 300-carry rusher with 1,300 total yard 6-8 TD potential. Essentially, he’s a 12-team RB2 available in the sixth round. Bargain.
Favorite/Best – Vernon Davis: It kind of goes without saying that the loss of Michael Crabtree should give the other pass catchers more opportunities, but with Davis, what he's lacked the most throughout his career are just that, targets. Yes, he'll see more coverage, but he's the kind of player who can deal with it.
Underrated – Cecil Shorts: With Blackmon out, he shouldn't have any trouble being a WR2, and there is a decent chance after he gets a head start, he'll be right on par with Justin Blackmon when he comes back.
Overrated – Jonathan Stewart: His ability isn't in question, but his ankles and ability to not re-injure them is. I hate to say it, but if I'm taking a Panthers running back this season, I'll lean toward DeAngelo Williams.
Favorite/Best – Eddie Lacy: For the third year in a row, the Crimson Tide had the top-rated running back entering the NFL Draft. He didn’t end up being the top RB picked, but he’ll now have a chance to join a Super Bowl-caliber team, after leaving a National Championship-caliber team. While it’s true that the Packers drafted Johnathan Franklin a few rounds later, they still needed depth at the position, so it’s not that shocking.
Underrated – BenJarvus Green-Ellis: As low as Lacy was ranked by everyone, it’s funny how everyone’s going “all-in” on Giovani Bernard. (I like him as well, but I also think The Law Firm is quickly being cast aside in Fantasy drafts.) This is starting to have a David Wilson-type feel, from last season – an over-hyped rookie that still has to get past a veteran that didn’t do much wrong a year ago.
Overrated – Robert Griffin III: I know, Adrian Peterson returned from a torn ACL, so why can’t RGIII? Well, he can. I don’t know that he will, but it’s a possibility. Granted, the odds of RGIII duplicating what AP did are pretty crazy. AP did what no other player has ever done. Now, everyone’s supposed to be able to do it? No. There are too many very good QBs to pick later in the draft than to burn a sixth-rounder on Griffin, a guy who many teams will be much more prepared to defend against in Year 2.
Favorite/Best – All QBs: I love all of the quarterbacks in this range. These are the last of the fantasy starters at the position in a standard league, and all of them have the potential to be as good as anyone at times. The last team to draft his starting quarterback is going to be happy with who he gets this year.
Underrated – Tony Romo: I might be placing too much value on quarterbacks, particularly with the position so deep now, but Tony Romo is a Top 55 player for me. He checks in at just 73 here. The Cowboys are going to be better this season, mostly because Romo's career is finally smoothing out and becoming more consistently spectacular – at least statistically. If you don't buy into the Cowboys, you have to assume a healthy Romo is going to post huge garbage-time numbers. Either way, you are going to be happy if he slips out of the Top 60 fantasy picks on Draft Day.
Overrated – Andre Brown: Brown might be a candidate for 10 touchdowns as David Wilson's vulture, but I don't have him in my Top 100. He doesn't figure to start over Wilson and has never stayed healthy in his career even when he was a seldom-used backup. Asking him to stay healthy and productive with a bigger role is asking too much, particularly if you are rating him as a Top 30 fantasy running back like this list seems to.
Favorite/Best – Andrew Luck: In new play-caller Pep Hamilton's higher-percentage offense, Luck's efficiency and counting stats will soar. The Colts will remain a pass-first team because their best talent is in the passing game, and offensive line upgrades will contribute to higher completion and lower interception rates. Luck is a sneaky NFL MVP candidate and potential Top Five fantasy quarterback.
Underrated – Cecil Shorts: Coming off a breakout sophomore year, Shorts spent his second straight offseason at Larry Fitzgerald's summer camp, honing his already impressive route running and run-after-catch skills. Despite shaky quarterback play, Shorts projects as a target beast on a Jacksonville team that'll consistently play from behind. He's also likely to start the season hot with No. 2 receiver Justin Blackmon suspended the first four weeks.
Overrated – Rashard Mendenhall: Mendenhall would be a brutal investment of an early- to mid-round fantasy pick. The Cardinals are a lock to struggle to run the ball, seeing as their offensive line lacks talent, new boss Bruce Arians is a decidedly pass-first coach, and they play in the run-tough NFC West. Look for Arizona to rank 28th to 30th in the league in rushing, and 30th to 32nd in yards per carry.
Favorite/Best – Shane Vereen: He's No. 55 for me, and I expect a breakout season. I liked Vereen the minute Danny Woodhead left for San Diego, and his value will only go up with Aaron Hernandez now gone. If you can get him at No. 74, that's a steal.
Underrated – Andre Brown: I love David Wilson this year, but if you can get Brown at No. 77 that might be better value. He has to stay healthy, but he could easily score double digits in touchdowns with a healthy amount of yards. He's No. 62 overall on my board.
Overrated – Colin Kaepernick: The loss of Michael Crabtree can't be overstated. He accounted for the majority of Kaepernick's passing production, and he will be missed with the Achilles injury. I'd rather have Andrew Luck and Tony Romo, who are going after Kaepernick here, and I'd even take Russell Wilson and Eli Manning ahead of Kaepernick this season.
Favorite/Best – Ahmad Bradshaw: Sure, he deals with injuries every year, but what most people don't realize is that he plays through most of them. He landed in a great slot in Indianapolis and will be a solid No. 3 RB for any fantasy team. He will get plenty of opportunity for playing time and will catch a lot of passes in Pep Hamilton's offense. Vick Ballard has taken a mighty tumble with this signing. In a down year for the Giants’ offense, Bradshaw sill averaged over 4.6 yards per carry and had over 1,200 yards total yards.
Underrated – Steve Smith: Over the last eight seasons, he has averaged over 1,150 yards, and that is even when you include his dismal 2010 season. He continues to be under-drafted and becomes a great value pick in almost every draft. The fact that he is being drafted after guys who have never even had a 1,000-yard season yet confounds me. He is a WR2 you can draft as your WR4 in most drafts. That is just absolute value.
Overrated – Andre Brown: Don't get me wrong, I think that Brown could have a productive season, but this is a guy who has always battled injuries. Last year was his best season of his young career with eight touchdowns, but he only had 73 carries for 385 yards and had 12 receptions for 86 yards. Those are all career high numbers. Most expect David Wilson to be the back who gets the most work this year, if that happens then Brown will be nowhere near the Top 100 when the season is done. He needs Wilson to fail to really do a lot of damage.
Favorite/Best – Shane Vereen: Not many players are getting as much hype as Shane Vereen, but I think it's for good reason. Danny Woodhead is out of New England, and Vereen will surely take over Woodhead's surprisingly successful 2012 duties. Vereen's a versatile player, and if the Pats lean on the running game a little more this season, he should see an increased role. That, and don't be surprised to see him line up wide. To me, Vereen is the perfect guy for the flex spot in your lineup.
Underrated – Steve Smith: The now 34-year-old Smith will still be the focus in the Panthers passing attack. Sure, he's aged. And yes, he's no longer the fantasy stud he once was. But over the last two seasons, Smiff has been the 14th-best wideout in fantasy football. He may have durability concerns given his age, but we have to keep his competition in mind: no one. If he's healthy, which he's shown he can be since his 2004 campaign, there's no reason to think he can't be a Top 20 receiver in 2013.
Overrated – Jonathan Stewart: I'm not entirely convinced DeAngelo Williams is done as a runner, especially when you consider Stewart's ankle issues. We were all excited and ready for Williams to leave Carolina this offseason, but his restructured contract didn't allow for that to happen. It's time to stay away from Carolina's running game in fantasy football for yet another year. Stewart's health and the potential timeshare are scary concerns.
Favorite/Best – Matthew Stafford: Stafford has led the league in pass attempts for each of the past two seasons, and it's hard to think that Detroit will be riddled with so many injuries to their receiving corps and just plain bad luck (Calvin Johnson getting repeatedly tackled on the one-yard line). Adding a weapon like Reggie Bush won't hurt this offense either. I see a nice bounce back for Stafford and think he's an excellent target for teams that wait until Round 5 or after to nab their signal-caller.
Underrated – Tony Romo: Consistency is the name of the game, and in fantasy circles, Romo has been a really good option for years. Romo has finished as a Top 10 fantasy quarterback in each healthy season, going all the way back to 2007. If you miss out on the top-tiered QB's, there's nothing wrong with waiting a few round to nab this consistently excellent value to lead you fake football squad.
Overrated – BenJarvus Green-Ellis: The Law-Firm seems to have merely average speed, average power, average looks, average carpentry skills and is just an average fantasy option. He'll also start to lose touches to the more dynamic Gio Bernard before too long. Green-Ellis doesn't look like much more than an RB3 or RB4 at this point.
Favorite/Best – Robert Griffin III: The injury last season will push his value down but every bit of news covering his rehab schedule (and there's been a lot of it) has been overwhelmingly positive. The physical gifts are evident but where he'll really shine this year is having a year of the mental side of the game under his belt. It's a scary combination.
Underrated – Cecil Shorts: The guy did everything for Jacksonville last year, and with Justin Blackmon suspended for four games, he'll be leaned on heavily early on. Even in this day of Red Zone and Sunday Ticket, Jaguar players seem to be consistently overlooked.
Overrated – Dennis Pitta: This isn't a knock on Pitta as much as it's a compliment to Ed Dickson. Dickson's no Jimmy Graham, but he's good enough to take receptions and touchdowns away from Pitta.
Favorite/Best – Cecil Shorts: I really want to target Cecil Shorts in the middle rounds, but his QB situation is one of the worst in the league. He posted the No. 2 Adjusted Fantasy Points/Target in 2012, which is a metric I created to account for the quality of a receiver's QB play. If Shorts can even get mediocre QB play in the near future, he's likely to explode.
Underrated – Shane Vereen: In late June, I made the case that Shane Vereen should be going earlier in fantasy drafts, and I still believe he has a good chance to finish as a fringe RB2, especially in PPR formats. He and Danny Woodhead combined to post the No. 12 PPR RB numbers last season, and with Woodhead now gone, Vereen should assume most of his workload in the offense. There were also reports of Vereen frequently lining up at receiver in OTAs, so the team is likely to lean on him in the passing game as well as they try to account for the loss of Aaron Hernandez (and possibly Rob Gronkowski).
Overrated – Jonathan Stewart: Stewart had offseason surgery on BOTH of his ankles and the team is concerned that he won't be ready for training camp. Even if J-Stew is ready to play, he's a major injury risk heading into the season. And he has a couple of good RBs (DeAngelo Williams and Mike Tolbert) breathing down his neck. There are lots of red flags here.
Favorite/Best – Robert Griffin: Griffin showed in his rookie season that he has the tools to be fantasy football's No. 1 QB. The Redskins are reportedly "astonished" with Griffin's recovery from knee surgery. RG3 is looking like a steal at No. 65.
Underrated – Shane Vereen: With the TE-who-will-not-be-named now out of the picture in New England, many are trying to figure out which TE will step up and fill the void. The flaw in that logic is that the Patriots don't really need a TE to step up and fill the void. What they need is pass-catchers and playmakers. The Patriots more than just about any other team in the NFL are willing to mold their schemes to fit the strengths of their personnel. I am expecting Vereen to step up in the passing game and as a playmaker in 2013. Especially in PPR formats, Vereen is in for a nice season, and is an absolute steal if you can land him with the 74th pick.
Overrated – Jonathan Stewart: There's really nothing to like here. Stewart is coming off of surgery on both ankles, has a long track record of injuries, and even if 100 percent healthy, will find himself in an ugly RBBC situation with DeAngelo Williams and Mike Tolbert, not to mention a QB who vultures the majority of the rush TDs.
Favorite/Best – Andrew Luck: The whole discussion regarding late round quarterbacks aside, I think Luck represents great value in comparison to the other QB's in this group. A little bit overshadowed in his rookie season by the stellar fantasy performance of RGIII and stunning breakout of Russell Wilson, Luck managed to put together on of the best rookie seasons ever. He is a true stud just waiting for the other talent surrounding him to gel. Keep an eye on his rapport with TY Hilton. Like Griffin, Luck is a talented, intelligent, levelheaded player. But unlike Griffin, he'll come without the injury concern.
Underrated – Vernon Davis: Last year Davis was maddeningly inconsistent. But in the playoffs when it counted most Kaepernick made Davis the most targeted TE not currently sitting in prison. I'm a big believer in following late season trends, and the trend with VD is made even more compelling with the injury to Crabtree. Expect to see Davis used in creative ways and finish the season as a Top 4-5 TE as the 49ers look to make maximum use of their best receiving threat.
Overrated – BenJarvus Green-Ellis: You have to hand it to the Law Firm. If there were a Hall of Fame for pedestrian running backs, he'd be first ballot. He's managed to land starting gigs for two teams, when most backs with his talent would be lucky to get one. But that ride is quickly coming to an end. Giovani Bernard is a much more talented back who will be seeing the majority of snaps by mid-season. BGJE will still get some goal line carries, but his days as a workhorse are over.
Favorite/Best – Tony Romo: I like Romo best among this group not because I think he's the most appropriately ranked, but because he has been one of the best early draft values in fantasy. He's coming off the board 12th among QBs despite ranking seventh at the position last year and finishing among the Top Nine each of his past five healthy seasons. Romo stands as the best early argument in favor of waiting on a QB.
Underrated – Steve Smith: Tough to say exactly where he stands among WRs on this list, but the ranking falls pretty much in line with his FF Calculator ADP. That site finds him going 27th among WRs, which is way too low. Smith ranked 19th across formats last year despite his low TD rate – just four among 73 catches; only two players in the league scored fewer times in as many receptions. Smith finished 2011 among the top 10 fantasy WRs. Somewhere in between that and last year's 19th seems plenty fair to expect in 2013, which would make him a strong WR2 on your fantasy team.
Overrated – Ahmad Bradshaw: That's not a terrible place to take a chance on a historically productive back. But Bradshaw comes with bad feet, will share the job with Vick Ballard and will play behind a bad line. Football Outsiders ranked the Colts 26th in adjusted line yards last year, and Pro Football Focus ranked their run-blocking 24th in the league. I wouldn't even consider taking him ahead of Rashard Mendenhall, so I'm surprised to see that as a consensus here.
Favorite/Best – Pierre Garcon: Garcon is my highest-ranked player on this list. Clearly, Robert Griffin III's favorite target, Garcon was the target on a whopping 31 percent of his throws after returning from injury in Week 11 last season. Garcon's 8.9 fantasy points-per-game was 26th-best at the position. Garcon's durability is a concern, but as the feature target in an emerging, high-scoring offense, he can afford to miss a few games and still reach 80 receptions, 1,000 yards and a half dozen touchdowns. Target Garcon in the fifth round.
Underrated – Cecil Shorts: Despite dealing with the underwhelming quarterback combo that is Blaine Gabbert and Chad Henne last season, Shorts caught 55 balls for 979 yards and seven touchdowns. He was fantasy's No. 22 wideout despite missing two games. Shorts saw over 20 percent of Jacksonville's targets when healthy and reached the 10-target mark in six of his final nine games. Additionally, with Justin Blackmon suspended four games, Shorts is locked in as Jacksonville's top target for at least one quarter of the season. Jacksonville's low-scoring offense caps Shorts' upside, but he's good enough to warrant consideration in the early portion of the sixth round.
Overrated – Tony Romo: My issue with Romo's ranking is not where he sits among other quarterbacks. My concern is that quarterbacks are overrated across the board. The position is so deep this year that there's no reason to pass on potential breakout stars like Shane Vereen, Gio Bernard, Josh Gordon, or Daryl Richardson in favor of a quarterback. Unless you notice an obvious value, focus on other positions in the first six rounds before considering a quarterback in the mid-to-late stages of the seventh round. With 12 reliable, strong QB1 options, you'll be happy you waited.
Favorite/Best – Robert Griffin: In his rookie year, RG3 showed the talent and ability to produce with the best of them. Using a mixture of running and passing, he's able to gobble up significant fantasy production quickly. His wheels are a question entering his second year, but if he's able to make a full recovery, he may be the only player in this group capable of posting Top 10 fantasy numbers this season.
Underrated – Tony Romo: When Romo plays a full season, he flirts with 4,000 yards and close to 30 touchdowns almost every year. He is in an offense that only knows how to pass, despite their continued communicated desires to run. If I don't snag a top-tier quarterback during the early rounds, I have no problem waiting until the early middle spots to snag Romo.
Overrated – Mark Ingram: Every year fantasy players look for a glimmer of hope and a reason to jump back on the Ingram bandwagon. I love the guy, but not in New Orleans. The Saints' offense isn't built to allow a power, feature back like Ingram the opportunity to shine and this year won't be any different. It's a shame, actually, as we're watching a very talented player in his prime waste away on an offense he'll never be designed for.
Favorite/Best – Ahmad Bradshaw: I can't imagine a more perfect situation for Bradshaw than the Colts. His history of foot injuries make it clear that 300 touches is not in the cards, but the Colts have Vick Ballard to spell Bradshaw and keep his workload in check. I'm convinced Bradshaw will be the lead back in that tandem, however, as he is the far superior pass catcher and pass blocker. And because Bradshaw can block, he will be in near the goal line more often than his size would suggest. Bradshaw has 6 or more touchdowns in four straight seasons.
Underrated – Andre Brown: C.J. Spiller is proof that you don't need to be a good blocker to be a fantasy star, but Spiller is much more the exception than the rule. Last year, the Giants relied on David Wilson sparingly, and pass blocking was likely the reason. Wilson was only allowed to block on six pass plays. Bradshaw blocked on 152 pass plays and Andre Brown did the same on 39 pass plays. With Bradshaw gone, Brown may be the bigger beneficiary, at least in the short term. He is much bigger and will likely see work around the end zone, and until Wilson proves that he can handle all the responsibilities of a running back, he will continue to be used situation-based. Brown could be in for a vintage Brandon Jacobs season.
Overrated – Rashard Mendenhall: Mendenhall is a good blocking back, but he'll have his work cut out for him in Arizona. The Cardinals offensive line has been terrible for the last several years, and that should mean more blocking – and less running – for Mendenhall. Even when he does get carries, he'll have more trouble finding lanes. He does not have the quickness to make yards where there are none. Plus, he's competing with a pair of rookies and Ryan Williams, who is likely the most talented back in the stable if he can stay healthy for a change. Williams and Ellington can at least catch the ball. Mendenhall peaked in 2009 with 25 receptions and has declined every year since.
Favorite/Best – Dennis Pitta: I just see Dennis Pitta succeeding in Baltimore this year with Boldin gone and Flacco getting super comfortable with him. He really is their only red zone threat in the receiving game and should get plenty of TD chances.
Underrated – Andrew Luck: Behind an injured RG3 and two spots away from Tony Romo? No way. Andrew Luck was a rookie QB playing as a QB1 for most of the season and should only improve as his blocking improves. I expect huge things from him, and even not favoring QBs much, I love Andrew Luck.
Overrated – BenJarvus Green-Ellis: Sorry, I just don't think he ends up winning that Bengals job. Giovanni Bernard is the better player right now and more electric. I'd MUCH rather take a chance on Mark Ingram than the mediocrity of BJGE.
Favorite/Best – Vernon Davis: If you don't get Graham in the second or Gronk in the first, Davis in the sixth would do just fine. He is cross-training at wide receiver, and he'll be the most dynamic target in the SF pass offense for most of the season. He has already demonstrated the ability to be an elite fantasy tight end and Davis is at the center of a perfect storm of production this year.
Underrated – Mark Ingram: Don't laugh. He's as healthy as he has been in his NFL career, Sean Payton is back and wants to commit to the run, and Chris Ivory is gone. The non-PPR format is also key here as Ingram should get the goal line carries in what will be a high-scoring offense. He's a very solid RB3/Flex in non-PPR this year.
Overrated – Matthew Stafford: Stafford only a QB1 last year because of the volume of throws. He failed to successfully adjust to the looks defenses gave him, and Stafford could languish again this year if he doesn't evolve. I would take him as QB11 or QB12, but not QB9.
Tony Holm Fantasy Sharks
Favorite/Best – Cecil Shorts: He has dedicated himself this off-season to football, training with Larry Fitzgerald, adding muscle so he can get off the line better, and is standing out as the team's best route runner.
Underrated – Andrew Luck: He is the real deal and that will show, even this early in his young career.
Overrated – Shave Vereen: Don't get me wrong, I like Vereen as a player but good luck to you if you think you can predict game-to-game when Belichick will use him, Ridley, or some RB you've never even heard of before.
Favorite/Best – Robert Griffin III (3), Tony Romo/Matthew Stafford/Vernon Davis/Andrew Luck/Ahmad Bradshaw/Cecil Shorts (2).
We almost didn’t have a clear overall favorite/best player, and truthfully, we really didn’t. Griffin was the most popular selection by just one vote over six others. I understand the hope for RGIII, and I say “hope” because as Gonos said, just because AP did it, doesn’t mean everyone can. Everything about Griffin’s rehab “sounds” great, but I want to see him on the field first. If I am drafting today, I’m still only taking him as the eighth QB, and that means… I’m not taking him. A couple of QBs check in with another hopeful in Davis. I saw the same chemistry with Kaepernick in the playoffs, but I’ve also seen him tease us too many times. I’m cautiously optimistic. As for the others, well, we’ll get to one of my favorites soon.
Underrated – Cecil Shorts (6), Tony Romo/Steve Smith (3), Shane Vereen/Andrew Luck (2).
Soon? How about now. I have been campaigning for Shorts all offseason, even before the Blackmon suspension news. The stats have been mentioned, and I say the same. Shorts will have the same junk QBs after using those same QBs to amass nearly 1,000 yards with seven TDs in 14 games. Now, he has a year under his belt and no real threat for looks until Blackmon returns. I have Shorts inside my Top 25 WRs, and he could easily reach the Top 15. Man, I sure hope none of my league-mates read this, as my other two favorite undervalued players are Romo and Smith. You know how much I support Romo by now… one.more.time. Romo is one of five QBs to finish in the Top 10 in five of the last six seasons. As for Smith, what more does he need to do to get fantasy love? Nothing has changed from last year, so look for another great campaign.
Overrated – Jonathan Stewart (5), Rashard Mendenhall (3), Ahmad Bradshaw/Andre Brown/BenJarvus Green-Ellis (2).
J-Stew runs away with this one, and it’s no surprise, especially after the recent news about his status for camp. Stewart was already a questionable selection given the Panthers backfield, and there has been nothing but more concerns building this offseason. Mendenhall and Brown seem to have the experts split (for those that mentioned them). I think Mendenhall is appropriately ranked given his role as the lead back, but also the concerns about how poor the Cardinals line is and Arians play style. Brown is a bit high for me, as his value is too dependent on touchdowns. Predicting TDs is always a fool’s errand in fantasy.