2012 Draft Prep: Buy-low candidates
Which names should you circle on your cheat sheets for late on Draft Day? Our Jamey Eisenberg shares his favorite late-round value targets for the upcoming season.
Everyone loves to save and find a bargain. It's why we cut coupons and look for two-for-one specials. You always want to get more value than what you actually spend, and it's a great feeling when that happens.
With that in mind, we're here to help find your Draft Day deals. These are buy-low candidates, which are players who are being drafted in Round 10 or later based on Average Draft Position, but they have the chance to become Fantasy starters.
We see it happen almost every year; a player selected with a late-round pick ends up becoming a quality Fantasy option in all leagues. Some buy-low candidates from last year included Cam Newton (2011 ADP was Round 13), DeMarco Murray (2011 ADP was Round 13), Antonio Brown (2011 ADP was Round 17) and Brent Celek (2011 ADP was Round 11).
Now, we all have our late-round sleepers who we think are going to shine. But the reality is most of the players listed below are going to be drafted late for a reason. Still, we hope to point out a few players who should be great bargains on Draft Day.
Editor's note: Average Draft Position data as of Aug. 3.
I'd draft ... Palmer, Luck, Freeman, Dalton, Fitzpatrick and Smith
Here's why: Freeman and Smith might have benefited the most this offseason with the weapons added to their respective receiving corps. Freeman got a new No. 1 receiver in Vincent Jackson , an upgrade at tight end in Dallas Clark over Kellen Winslow and a tremendous backfield threat in Doug Martin . Keep in mind that Freeman is just one year removed from being a Top 10 Fantasy quarterback, and he could easily get back to that level if things break right. Smith got two new targets in Randy Moss and Mario Manningham and LaMichael James should help out of the backfield also. ... Most Fantasy analysts, myself included, expect Robert Griffin III to be the top rookie quarterback, but Luck might be right there with him. He has quality talent around him in Reggie Wayne , Austin Collie and Coby Fleener , and the Colts might be trailing in every game, forcing Luck to throw a lot in comeback efforts. ... Palmer only saw limited action last year after being traded to the Raiders, but he had at least 18 Fantasy points in six of nine starts. He should have a similar ratio this season and makes for a quality No. 2 Fantasy passer. The same goes for Dalton and Fitzpatrick, especially since Fitzpatrick finished as a Top 12 Fantasy quarterback last year. ... One other quarterback not being drafted who is worth consideration is Jake Locker , who could end up as the starter for the Titans by Week 1.
I'd draft ... Williams, Wilson, Pierre Thomas , Hillman, Smith, Rodgers, Turbin, Goodson, Royster, Jennings, Scott and Pead
Here's why: Williams is one of my favorite sleepers this year. I'd rather pass on Beanie Wells in Round 5 -- which is his ADP -- and take Williams in Round 10, because their production should be similar, making Williams the better buy. ... Hillman and Rodgers are two running backs I plan to target in PPR leagues. The Broncos and Falcons are expected to be pass-heavy this season, and Hillman and Rodgers will be on the field in those situations more than Willis McGahee and Michael Turner , respectively. Hillman might also turn out to be a fine option in standard leagues as well. ... The Giants drafted Wilson in the first round, which speaks volumes about how they view Ahmad Bradshaw as a featured running back. While Bradshaw should still dominate the touches, Wilson will also get plenty of playing time, and Bradshaw has a lengthy injury history with foot problems. ... Some excellent backup running backs could be Turbin, Jennings and Pead. Turbin could be the starter in Seattle at some point if Marshawn Lynch is suspended. Jennings could open the season as the starter in Jacksonville if Maurice Jones-Drew has a lengthy holdout and Pead has drawn comparisons to Chris Johnson as the backup to Steven Jackson . New Rams coach Jeff Fisher, who coached Johnson in Tennessee, might use Pead to supplement Jackson, and Jackson is nearing the end of his run as a featured rusher, which means a breakdown could possibly happen this year. ... I'm coming around on Smith as the best running back for the Lions. He's healthy, which is something that can't be said about Mikel Leshoure and Jahvid Best during training camp. ... Goodson is an emergency option in case Darren McFadden goes down, and Royster might end up as the best running back for the Redskins. At least for one week. The next week it could be Roy Helu . The week after that it could be Hightower. You never know with Mike Shanahan, but Royster could get an extended look.
(pick No. 110),
I'd draft ... Holmes, Moore, Rice, Heyward-Bey, Moss, Little, Washington, Williams, Quick, Wright, LaFell, Cobb, Jon Baldwin and Randle
Here's why: It's never a bad thing to draft a team's No. 1 receiver even if the quarterback situation isn't great. That's what we have here with Holmes, Rice, Little and potentially Quick (I'd pass on Blackmon/Robinson because I don't trust either one coming into the season). Each of these receivers has the potential to be No. 3 Fantasy options, with Holmes and Rice proven commodities and Little and Quick likely featured targets on bad teams. ... Moore is an underrated Fantasy receiver playing with an elite quarterback in Drew Brees , and he should benefit with more targets now that Robert Meachem is in San Diego. Cobb is another receiver that has the chance for big stats based on his quarterback, and Aaron Rodgers should enjoy throwing to Cobb down the field. ... Denarius Moore should be considered the No. 1 receiver for the Raiders, but Heyward-Bey was a breakout in his third year in 2011. Hopefully he can build off that in 2012. ... Speaking of third-year receivers, LaFell should be a breakout candidate catching passes from Newton. He should make tremendous strides this season. We hope Williams takes advantage of his third season after a disappointing sophomore campaign. A bounce-back year from Freeman would help. ... Washington and Wright will benefit from a potential Kenny Britt suspension, and Britt is still dealing with a knee injury. ... Baldwin is taking advantage of Dwayne Bowe holdout, and Randle has the chance to make plays early in the year with Hakeem Nicks (foot) hurt. ... Moss is being overlooked with the Redskins adding Pierre Garcon and Josh Morgan this offseason, but don't be surprised if Moss remains the best receiver in Washington this year. ... Speaking of the Redskins, two receivers not being drafted worth consideration are Leonard Hankerson and Josh Gordon . Hankerson could start opposite Garcon with Moss in the slot. And Gordon, who was a supplemental draft pick in Cleveland, could be the starter along with Little.
I'd draft ... Tamme, Pettigrew, Gresham, Celek, Daniels, Fleener, Cook, Keller, Rudolph and Olsen
Here's why: Tight end is one of the deepest positions this year. You can definitely take one of the elite options in the first five rounds like Jimmy Graham , Rob Gronkowski or Antonio Gates , which is fine. But if you choose to wait, there are great tight ends out there, including the ones listed here. Gresham is my favorite breakout tight end this year, and offensive coordinator Jay Gruden wants to feature him in the passing game like the Patriots use Gronkowski. He should be the No. 2 target for Dalton after A.J. Green . ... Pettigrew and Celek were Top 12 tight ends last year, and they should finish in that range again. ... Tamme will benefit from being reunited with Peyton Manning in Denver after the two were teammates with the Colts, and the same goes for Fleener with Luck. The two were college stars at Stanford, and Luck should lean on Fleener. ... Daniels and Keller will likely be the No. 2 options in the passing game for the Texans and Jets, respectively, and each should see plenty of targets. ... Olsen will improve now that Jeremy Shockey is gone in Carolina, and Olsen has the talent to be a Top 10 tight end. ... Cook also could thrive for the Titans, but he needs to be more consistent.