High Stakes And Best Ball Format Sleepers
By Jake Ciely
The high stakes/big money leagues are more prevalent than ever, which means owners are looking for more advice… and of course, sleepers! Your average high stakes owner is already more knowledgeable than the average owner, as seen in the yearly Pros vs. Joes challenge in the FFPC (Fantasy Football Players Championship). The "Joes" just keep winning.
I received my second invite for PVJC, and even though I finished second last year, I think I did even better this time. But I'm not here to brag. I'm here to review some picks, give you some insight and provide some key targets for playing in any best ball format.
I drew the fourth pick, and with Jamaal Charles, Jimmy Graham (tight ends have a 1.5 PPR scoring) and Adrian Peterson off the board, I took Matt Forte. Not much explanation needed here, and truly, the entire first round had no surprises. I loved seeing Montee Ball going 11th overall (sixth RB), as he finally got the respect deserved. Although, I didn't love not being able to snag him late in Round 2. I instead took Brandon Marshall as the sixth receiver off the board, and as I tell owners often, there is no need to worry about pairing a team's running back and wide receiver when they are elite.
Round 3 is where we started seeing some interesting moves. I grabbed C.J. Spiller as his upside is immense, and in a best ball format (plus, a high stakes league where you need to take more chances) upside is what you want. Jordan Cameron became the fourth tight end taken, and you can see how the 1.5 PPR factor skews the draft. Round 4 was fairly typical with Drew Brees marking the third quarterback off the board. I took Rashad Jennings. I'm actually loving the David Wilson and Andre Williams talk, as it's letting me get even better value on a great RB2 for 2014.
Kendall Wright was my fifth round pick and my WR2, and I am thrilled given the PPR format. Wright had 94 receptions in his second season. The only reason he didn't rank higher was due to just two touchdowns. Mind you, he scored four times on 64 receptions in his rookie season; it will get better. Even if it doesn’t, Wright finished as WR20 in PPR leagues last year, and he was the 20th receiver taken.
Jason Witten and Greg Olsen went 5.10 and 5.12 with Vernon Davis, Jordan Reed and Kyle Rudolph gone by my next selection. Guess I'm taking a tight end early! Sigh. I loathe PPR formats and despise 1.5 TE PPR leagues. Pop quiz. Who was the eighth best tight end in PPR leagues last year? … Nope. Unless you owned him, your guess was probably wrong. It was Charles Clay. Not only did Clay finish eighth, he had the seventh most targets (102) and receptions (69). Another year of development with Ryan Tannehill simply means another year of TE1 value.
I started a small quarterback run in the seventh with Matthew Stafford, but it was the 8.04 pick in the next round that made everyone pull a double take. Pick 8.04, the Seahawks defense! Whaaa?! There is way too much change each year to ever draft a DST early, and even if the Seahawks repeated last year's success, you hurt your depth elsewhere. Don't be that guy.
Bernard Pierce could be a great value at 8.07 with Ray Rice's two-game suspension. Lamar Miller is my boom-or-bust pick of the draft… and unfortunately, I'm leaning more towards "bust". I really liked getting Sammy Watkins as my WR3 because even with shoddy QB play, nearly 25 percent of the passing targets will still equal a good PPR campaign.
Let's talk some late round value:
Charles Sims (10) – I don't have much faith in Doug Martin. We all know that he scored 40 percent of his rookie fantasy points in three games, and Martin didn't look good prior to his injury last year. Sims deserves the comparisons to Matt Forte, and I don't think Martin has as long of a leash as most might think.
Garrett Graham (11) – Graham sits atop the depth chart, and Bill O'Brien loves his tight ends.
Tre Mason (13) – Zac Stacy had a poor 3.6 yards per carry over the last four games in 2013. While I don't think Mason is a serious threat for Week 1, I do believe Mason is the better talent, and if Stacy has a few poor weeks, we could see Mason pull a 2013 Stacy on Stacy.
Andrew Hawkins (14) – Someone has to lead the Browns in receiving, right? Hawkins flashed some PPR value in 2012, and the No. 1 role in Cleveland is certainly wide open.
Latavius Murray (18) – People have already forgotten that Murray was a late round favorite for some last year. It helps when you are that size and can move that fast. The main reason for potential isn’t the size though, it's the egg shell running back stable of Maurice Jones-Drew and Darren McFadden in front of him.
Allen Robinson (21) – I prefer Robinson's talent to Marqise Lee, but I will admit that if Lee starts to run more technically sound routes (not relying so much on ability) that Lee has the inside track to the No. 2 role. If Lee doesn't get his act together though, Robinson can easily surpass him.
Players that others took:
Sam Bradford (17) – Bradford averaged 20.5 FPPG before the injury and showed promise for more with three three-touchdown games. It's also likely Bradford's last chance to be the Rams solution at quarterback, and Tavon Austin now has his rookie season behind him. Oh, and Kenny Britt is in town now! Wooo!
Ryan Fitzpatrick (19) – Fitz has nine (nearly 10) games with 300 or more passing yards over the past three seasons. If there is any quarterback that can win you some weeks in best ball without your worrying about the down games, it's Fitzpatrick.
Dexter McCluster (20) – Dex had 53 receptions with 116.7 FP in PPR leagues last year, and that was without playing for Ken Whisenhunt. Whiz loves throwing to the running back, and McCluster gives you a nice mix of being a stable presence – always going to chip in a few points – and upside play of someone who could score double digits any given week.