Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Top 10 Deep Keeper League Players For 2014

Future Stud
First, a quick point. The very best keepers in 2014 are strongly going to resemble the best keepers in 2013. If you've somehow got LeSean McCoy for cheap, he's going to be better than just about everyone else. But he won't come as cheap as these guys. So if your league is deep enough to stash for a gain in 2015... on to the bargain hunting!

10) QB Blake Bortles, Jacksonville

A great story is developing in J-Ville, where second year coach Gus Bradley went 0-8 to start 2013, then went 4-4 down the stretch to become the best team in the AFC South. In pre-season, Bortles has looked like the real deal, getting to second and third progressions, showing arm strength and mobility in the pocket. None of that happens for noob QBs that aren't special. Even better, the Jags' new talent at wideout are actual football players, unlike past years, and the offensive line also resembles football players.

I don't know if he's going to be a top 10 QB -- the defense looks upgraded as well, and Bradley isn't a coach that looks like he's going to dial up 600+ throws a year -- but there's nice steady and boring profit to be made here, especially in 2-QB leagues. And with the teams he'll face in the division, there's going to be some big TD games, too.

9) RB Carlos Hyde, San Francisco

RB Frank Gore, known early in his career for an inability to stay healthy, has shown remarkable durability late. But it can't last forever, which is why the Niners moved on a RB earlier than most in the draft.

Hyde has the quicks and talent to be an actual three-down back, and if you're still worried about getting cuckolded by the perpetually injured Marcus Lattimore, you are really worrying too much. The only downside here is his division, but there's still quality RB2 / third-round value possible in 2015.

8) TE Jace Amaro, New York Jets

Early drops in camp were an issue, but the recent work has been Ditka-esque, and TEs are a bad QB's best friend. Amaro is going to be the kind of TE that never leaves the field due to his blocking prowess, but he's too good in space and traffic to let them keep him down permanently.

If I were a Jet Fan, I'd live a very sad existence... but Amaro's jersey would be the only one I'd pull the trigger on in 2014.

7) QB Ryan Tannehill, Miami

Ready for Nick Foles II? Then step on down to Miami, where new OC Bill Lazor comes from Philly with the same pace of play ideas that changed the world up north. The division is still pretty easy when it comes to a lack of defensive ferocity, and the WR tandem of Mike Wallace and Brian Hartline is surprisingly peppy. Combine that the quality work of TE Charles Clay, an underwhelming running game, an offensive line that has to be better post-Incognito, and his own reasonable athleticism, and you've got serious profit potential from a QB that won't be drafted outside of 2-QB leagues. A Roethlisbergian ceiling awaits.

6) QB Matt Ryan, Atlanta

Take a look at Ryan's 2013, a reviled year where the bloom went off the rose... to the tune of 4,500 yards and 26 TDs. Now, that's without Roddy White, a banged-up Steven Jackson, widespread turmoil on the offensive line, and all of the turnover from injuries. This year, he has to live without safety blanket TE Tony Gonzalez, but he's also got an O-line again, depth at RB, a healthy White, and a last-place schedule. Oh, and the defense is still terrible, and he still plays half of his games in a dome. There's still ceiling here, and if he gets to it, it's 4,800 yards and 30+ TDs. Remember, you aren't drafting last year's numbers.

5) RB Tre Mason, St. Louis

Ignore the happy talk about how Shaun Hill has similar career numbers to Sam Bradford, or how the Rams are going to trade for Mark Sanchez, or sign Kyle Orton, and salvage their year. They aren't, and Hill isn't going to hold up, and even if they did, the Rams are in such a brutal division that it wouldn't matter. And part of the problem is RB1 Zac Stacy, a plodder who only rose to prominence by a few fluke games late in 2013. The club is aware of what they have here, and that's why they invested in Mason, who will be RB1 in 2015... and with an actual QB (either through the draft or free agency, Bradford's done), a fourth-place schedule, and all kinds of clear field ahead.

4) WR Paul Richardson, Seattle

Absolutely stupid speed here, enough to make even the Seattle secondary look bad in camp. He's got a sharp learning curve ahead with the run blocking and the route running, but if you believe Percy Harvin is going to stay healthy, I've got a bridge to sell you... and by 2015, Marshawn Lynch will have slowed down, and Seattle will be trusting QB Russell Wilson with more throws. Richardson isn't going to need many.

3) WR Cordarrelle Patterson, Minnesota

Everybody's favorite dark horse speed merchant is the rare hype machine that will live up to the notices. The reason why is (a) his 2013 numbers were unnaturally depressed due to the coaching staff's insane check-down obsession, and (b) the QB work can't be as bad as it was in 2013, especially with Teddy Bridgewater waiting in the wings. (I'm not as sold on Bridgewater, because the team is going to be pretty run-centric, but even that helps Patterson, since he gets a few carries.)

2) WR Jordan Matthews, Philadelphia

The second rounder has impressed in pre-season and training camp, and the men in front of him are injury-prone (Jeremy Maclin) and overrated (Riley Cooper). The catch rate here is strong, he does good work in the running game as a blocker (important in a Chip Kelly offense; it keeps you on the field), and his QB is accurate. WR1 status by 2015, with the potential for 1,200 yards and 10 scores.

1) RB Bryce Brown, Buffalo

RB1 CJ Spiller can't stay healthy, and is about to get expensive. RB2 Fred Jackson harkens back, which isn't anything a RB should do. And Brown is here, impressing the coaching staff, and going to get RB1 carries in a volume system next year. Stash him for a year, and you might wind up with second round value in 2015.

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