Friday, September 2, 2011

Fantasy Football 2011: Undervalued Tight Ends, Defenses and Kickers

First things first -- the only part of this list you should really care about is the tight ends, and if you are giving this the same amount of time that you are running backs, wideouts and QBs, you are missing the boat. Go spend more time on the real part of the draft: this is the sucker play part of the draft, and you can safely pass until the final three rounds this year, then play the waiver wire and get good production. But that's not what the attention to detail crowd wants to hear, and shaving a few points here and there is a win, so...

Tight Ends

Undervalued


1) Zach Miller. Well, it's not as if he hasn't proven that he can get points with a frankly terrible QB at the controls. Miller benefits from no other real possession receiver in the offense, a team that's going to be throwing it a lot from being down, in a weak division. There's really nothing to dislike here, and it wouldn't surprise me at all if he winds up as a top 3 performer when it's all said and done. Just don't count on a ton of touchdowns, because that would involve Tavaris Jackson throwing touchdowns. 1,000 yards and 4 TDs.

2) Vernon Davis. Two years removed from a 13-TD year, the best deep threat in the game at TE returns for another year of discount love because no one believes his QB is worth a damn. Despite the fact that, well, the last 1900 yards and 20 scores have been from the same terrible QB. He's 27, in the prime of his career, in a weak division and with a club that starts head cases at wideout. Grab him with both hands, start him every week, and watch him bring down his first 1,000-yard year with 10 scores.

3) Owen Daniels. The last time he was healthy, he was on pace for 1,000 yards and 10 scores in the high-powered Texans offense. This year, he's healthy again, the Texans have instability at RB with Arian Foster's hamstring issues, and the very slight deterioration that is Andre Johnson getting older. I like him for a big bounce back if he can stay healthy, and 800 yards and 6 scores even if he can't.

Overvalued

1) Dallas Clark. First, you get to buy into 35-year-old Peyton Manning and his health issues. Then, you've got to ignore his continuing health issues. Next, you get to skip over the fact that Jacob Tamme gave them 90% of what he does for a fraction of the money last year, and even if things to well for the Colts this year, they'll want to conserve the resource. Add it all up, and you get a guy that some people rank as the #2 TE in fantasy, delivering 700 yards and 5 scores in an injury and time-share riddled year. Stay far, far away.

2) Todd Heap. Proof that the NFC West does not heal all ills. Heap's a safe target for a QB that goes to the TE, but he's long past his expiration date, and the line is too shaky to send him out too often. I can't see him staying healthy, getting enough targets to matter, or being an every week start... and that's where he's getting drafted. Let someone else go after him; he'll be on the waiver wire before the end of the year with his 500 yards and 5 scores.

3) Jason Witten. In two out of the last three years, he was a red zone pariah... so why do we think last year's 9 scores are the new norm? He's also 29, in an offense with a good second TE and a pretty terrible offensive line. The slow erosion begins this year, with 700 yards and 4 scores, and some weeks that you'd rather have Martellus Bennett.

Defenses

Undervalued


1) Detroit. This might be the best defensive line in the game, and they get four games against Jay Cutler and Donovan McNabb. They've also got an offense that's going to put points on the board, giving the defense the chance to pin the ears back and rush the QB. There's a lot to like here, and you don't need to call them out before the FA portion of the program. Mix and match them, and enjoy them at home in a loud dome against weak QBs. This is an 8-8 team with a lot of good moments this year.

2) San Diego. The AFC West is looking even worse than usual, with the Raiders falling apart, the Chiefs hurt, and the Broncos going to conservatism. They won't be good in another year or two because AJ Smith has well and truly lost the fastball, but for now, the remnants of the team that never was will pay off handsomely.

3) New England. Don't look now, but the Empire spent on defense this last year, and might just get something out of Albert Haynesworth. The secondary got a lot better last year and won't stop improving, and the only thing that was wrong was that they didn't get to the passer. This year, that will change, and the offense will run more than usual to take time off the clock. It's no fun to root for them, but they'll make you money.

Overvalued

1) Pittsburgh. Surprisingly old, these guys are only special when Troy Polamalu is in the lineup, which he increasingly isn't. People will still pay as if they are the best unit in the business, and they might be... for the first two months. But in the fantasy playoffs, they'll let you down, especially if you paid too much for them. And you'll have to.

2) Baltimore. As always, they are the downmarket copy of the Steelers, all the way down to the brilliant safety that can't stay on the field. Ray Lewis is more bluster than player, and you can run on them now; if you give up yards to Cedric Benson, you are not an elite run defense. They'll score some points this year, especially against the Bengals, but they aren't worth their position.

3) New York Giants. I have no idea why anyone would be drafting this team right now. Turnstiles and street agents at corner in a division where 4 out of 6 division matchups will terrify, and not nearly enough pass rush to compensate, because there's not enough pass rush in the world to compensate for this secondary. They might do it with smoke and mirrors for four to six weeks, but then the roof will cave in. This team will be on your waiver wire by November.

Kickers

Undervalued


1) Ryan Longwell. Minnesota will move the ball more than last year, and Donovan McNabb has always been a little too cautious in the red zone for the benefit of anyone but his kicker. Besides, dome kickers are always a good idea in the playoffs.

2) Rob Bironas. The better Janikowski, since he gets the long shots and actually makes them. Now that the Titans have signed Chris Johnson, they'll move it enough for figgies.

3) Matt Bryant. Atlanta's going to score some points this year, folks; lots of them. They'll move the ball, they'll keep drives alive with more passing on early downs, and they will.. stall in the red zone, because Tony Gonzalez is fading, and so is the run game. Lots of chip shot field goals in a dome? I'm sold.

Overvalued

1) Sebastian Janikowski. Guys like the long field goal potential, but year after year he just doesn't get enough chances to matter. Pass.

2) Alex Henery. This just in: the Eagles aren't going to be a pinball machine this year. They'll actually be better on defense; the offense will be, thanks to the rebuilt line, a work in progress. And rookie kickers miss a fair amount. There are better options.

3) Adam Vinatieri. He's old, they don't give him deep shots, and the offense isn't what it used to be. Avoid the name; he's waiver bait.

* * * * *

And with that, folks, I wish you a good draft and a happy Labor Day; it's time to take some time off from the double shift jobs and single shift blog. See you next week; stay safe out there.

1 comment:

snd_dsgnr said...

I really wish I could argue with your assessment of the Giants, but I can't. I wasn't particularly optimistic before preseason injuries fell on the defense like the damned bubonic plague, I'm certainly not optimistic afterwards.

Honestly 8-8 would be a pleasant surprise.

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