Sunday, August 19, 2007

Fantasy Football Cheat Sheet: Final Round Sleepers

Fantasy football is a fickle mistress. Every year the landscape changes, and the difference between first place and last place in your league depends on how you react to the changing climate. As a helper, Fantasy Football Cheat Sheet will guide you through some of the finer points of fantasy this year. Have a question or topic about fantasy football you'd like to see addressed? Send it to turnoverbattle@gmail.com

The final round pick. It is perhaps the most overlooked pick in fantasy football drafts, yet it can also be one of the most important. By the time the 16th round rolls around, most people are ready to go, eager to evaluate how their team is going to stack up. Most of the time the only players left in the final round are 3rd and 4th string WRs and RBs or low level QBs such as Brodie Croyle, Jeff Garcia, and Jason Campbell. Many fantasy players use the 16th round to finally pick up a kicker or a defense. In all these cases, the last pick is a throwaway pick.

I have news for you; it doesn't have to be.

Your last pick can in fact become a very valuable asset to your fantasy team, but in order for that to happen you have to take the time to carefully identify situations where a sleeper can evolve. For example, last year injury concerns and a criminally low ranking by ESPN and Yahoo allowed me to grab Kellen Winslow in the final round of all of my fantasy drafts. Winslow went on to be the #6 fantasy TE last season, a fantastic bargain for a 16th round pick. Onto the big question; who are this year's final round steals?

Jacoby Jones: Don't feel bad if you don't know who Jacoby Jones is yet. Jones was drafted this year by the Texans out of Division II Lane College after a great showing at the combine. Jones was known in college for being both a great receiver as well as an explosive kick returner. The Texans seem to have already penciled Jacoby in as their punt returne, but the truly intriguing thing about Jones is that he is currently in a close battle with Kevin Walter for the #2 WR position opposite Andre Johnson. If Jones were to get the starting spot he could become a huge steal in the final round of fantasy drafts. With defenses concentrating on Andre Johnson and Ahman Green Lane could find himself the beneficiary of lax coverage. Combine that with his potential for punt return TDs, and Lane could see his fantasy production as a rookie fall somewhere between Greg Jennings and Marques Colston. Don't believe in him yet? Check his stat line from tonight's preseason game; 2 rushes for 24 yards, 2 receptions for 32 yards, and an 80 yard punt return for a TD.

Devin Hester: Hester is a player that every fantasy owner should be familiar with. Now granted, his new role as a WR in the Bears' offense will not likely garner very many yards or consistent outings. Hester is a gadget player on offense, nothing more. What he also happens to be however, is perhaps the most explosive player in the NFL. Even if Hester only gets a minimal number of touches this year, does anyone really doubt that he won't be able to turn at least a few of them into scores? While Hester won't garner you many yardage points, he may well score the most TDs of any player that is available in the final round of fantasy drafts. You don't need me to tell you that TDs are fantasy gold.

T.J. Duckett, Greg Jones, Michael Robinson, and Tony Hunt: Why on earth would you want to pick one of these mainly anonymous backup RBs? Two words; Touchdown Vulture. Each of these backs are in high octane offenses where the RB they are backing up is either 1.) undersized or 2.) prone to fumbling. Every Frank Gore fantasy owner from last season remembers his goal line fumbles, and you can bet that Mike Nolan remembers them as well. Robinson should see the vast majority of the carries inside the 10 yard line. T.J. Duckett is of course the perrenial TD vulture, and backing up the small and fumble prone Tatum Bell sets him up for another 7-10 TD season. Greg Jones will be the short yardage cog of the three headed Jaguars rushing machine, and will greatly reduce the value of Maurice Jones-Drew. Tony Hunt is the ultra sleeper of this group. The Eagles are well aware of Brian Westbrook's injury history, and in recent years they have featured Correll Buckhalter heavily to spell Westbrook. Hunt, a rookie out of Penn St., could step into the short yardage duties for the Eagles as well as challenge Buckhalter for the secondary carries. Also, if Westbrook goes down to injury Hunt could become a real threat as a fantasy back.

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3 comments:

Liston said...

Dear Winning the turnover battle,

Jacoby Jones is going to be a monster. Did you see that punt return for a touchdown on Saturday against the Cards? He was running 70mph, at least.

Love,

Liston

Kelvin said...

This guy is special, and it wouldn't surprise me if he had a Marques Colston-type season. His vision and explosiveness is uncanny, and he will make big plays all over the field this season.

Andrew said...

I ask about the other J.J.

The Packers James Jones? I mean, the dude catches everything.

Everything.