It’s roll-up-your-sleeves time. The time when prepared fantasy
owners separate themselves from lazy owners, when gems are unearthed
and hunches from the offseason are manifested, when championship
fantasy teams are built. It’s the middle of your fantasy football
draft, a place where 2010 stars such as Arian Foster, Michael Vick,
Brandon Lloyd, Mike Wallace, and others were selected. Whether it’s
sheer luck or your devoted preparation, knowing who to target and
when to pull the trigger are crucial to building a solid fantasy
football team. Here are a few players I view as good value picks
in the middle rounds in 2011.
Note: ADP based on
a 12-team league.
It’s a crowed backfield for sure in New Orleans. Along with rookie
Mark Ingram is veteran holdover Pierre
Thomas and free agent acquisition Darren
Sproles—to say nothing of Chris
Ivory. And with that surplus of players, it could be difficult
to pinpoint precisely who to target. I’m not going to use the
lame excuse that the club will give a player every opportunity
to be a star because they traded into the bottom of the NFL Draft’s
first round to get him. That sounds good, but it’s a tired refrain
indeed. How about this novel concept? Ingram will be the lead
dog in the Saints’ running game because…well…he’s the best running
back on the team. He’s shifty, but not overly elusive. He’s quick,
but not lightning fast. He’s got nice size, but he’s far from
being physically intimidating. The bottom line is Ingram is a
really good running back who should fit nicely into what New Orleans
is looking to do on offense. The shuffling game head coach Sean
Payton employs with his skill players will frustrate owners for
sure, but Ingram appears to be the one earmarked for goal-line
duty, and perhaps even a third down or two during the course of
a game. Ingram could easily finish the season with six to eight
scores. He’s a solid RB3 with potential to produce like a bottom-tier
Overlooking Nate Burleson is easy when you consider that he plays
opposite Calvin Johnson. But considering also that many predict
Detroit’s offense to surprise in 2011, Burleson should and
will be higher on owners’ radar come draft time. Burleson
was quietly productive in 2010, having his best game (7 rec, 113
yrds, 1 TD) against the stingy New York Jets defense. He even
had a stretch from Weeks 8 through 11 when he reeled in 25 catches—not
bad when you consider Calvin Johnson had 26 during that same stretch.
Even though protecting Matthew Stafford is the Lions’ first
priority, they may be forced to throw the football more often
than they’d like. The running game dilemma hasn’t
been solved in…well, forever…and the loss of rookie
running back Mikel Leshoure for the season doesn’t help.
So look for Detroit to make Burleson a relevant fantasy player
this year, putting up decent numbers for a WR3.
Now that Kyle Orton has proven to Denver’s front office
that he’s their best option at quarterback in 2011, fantasy
owners heading into their drafts should follow Denver’s
lead. Orton was one of fantasy football’s most dynamic QBs
during the first half of last season. Granted, that was with an
offensive-minded, pass-happy head coach in Josh McDaniels. While
new head coach John Fox has a reputation as a ground-and-pound
kinda guy, Jake Delhomme somehow managed to be relevant in most
fantasy circles during their time together in Carolina. I see
Orton putting up similar numbers as last year—maybe not
the 3,800 passing yards, but the 21 TD passes are attainable.
Orton can be had as late as the 10th or 11th round.
A viable RB3 for most fantasy teams .
Reggie Bush’s place on this list is not an overreaction
to his play in the second preseason game. I was high on Bush as
soon as his move to Miami was announced. In Miami, I think he
will be counted on to do more than what he did in New Orleans.
The Saints utilized every skill position player on the roster,
limiting, to some degree, Bush’s opportunities. Miami, meanwhile,
doesn’t have the luxury of that kind of depth. So Bush could
consequently serve in some offensive alignments as the de facto
WR2. Either in the slot or roaming out of the backfield, Bush
will have his greatest value in PPR leagues. It’s safe to
assume that he will not have many goal-line opportunities, as
rookie Daniel Thomas looks to secure that role. But I think Bush
will have a renaissance of sorts in Miami and become a viable
RB3 for many fantasy teams.
If not for the unfortunate head injuries sustained last season
and the fact that his quarterback is currently battling ailments
of his own, Austin Collie would have been a top-15 preseason fantasy
WR. Guaranteed. This guy was money last year for those lucky enough
to pluck him off the waiver wire after that 11-catch, 163-yard,
1-TD season-opening game. Leading the league in receptions and
receiving yards after three games was a shock to everybody, but
that showed what this guy can do. The aforementioned issues, however,
have affected his ADP to the extent that he’s now a relative
bargain. Assuming Peyton Manning returns to his former self, Collie
should once again be a solid fantasy performer. Just don’t
select him too soon. He went in the seventh round of a 10-team
league I play in, which is about where he should go. I would be
a bit uneasy relying on him at this point as a WR2, but Collie
should serve you well as a top-flight WR3 with tremendous upside—assuming,
of course, he and his quarterback are healthy long-term.
The Washington Redskins have huge questions at quarterback. That
fact alone, though, shouldn’t scare you from selecting the
often undervalued Moss. There’s not much help for Moss on
the outside, and tight end Chris Cooley continues to have issues
with his knee, although he contends he will be ready for Week
1. But Moss is Washington’s lone ranger when it comes to
quality wide receiver talent who can make things happen. Head
coach Mike Shanahan’s offense has traditionally produced
good fantasy starters, although last year’s version of the
Redskins was a pretty bad representation of that ability. Moss’s
7.12 ADP makes him a borderline WR2/WR3 prospect in 12-team leagues.
You could do worse. Select Moss and expect the 32-year-old to
give you good production.