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Faceoff: Mid-round Players to Target

The Footballguys staff looks for quality in the middle rounds

Name a middle-round player you are targeting. Why?

Jeff Haseley: DeAngelo Williams. The news of Jonathan Stewart's ankle woes sure sounds real. That could very well be one of the reasons why Carolina elected to retain him in the offseason when perhaps the best solution was to cut cap space and release him outright. Williams can still play. He has just two seasons with 200+ carries in his career, plus he is coming off a 210-yard, 2-touchdown week 17 game against the Saints who were trying to win the game. Not to mention, Williams has averaged 5.0 yards per carry dating back to 2007. If Stewart misses considerable time, or if his place on the depth chart takes a fall, Williams could flirt with a Top 20 season.

Jason Wood: Jeff's choice is an excellent one. Assuming by "middle round" you mean the 8th through 15th rounds, here are a few guys with appeal:

Quick reasons why:

  • Dalton: Big Red has more weapons at his disposal and has shown enough to be viewed as a high floor, top end QB2. I view Dalton as the perfect bye week or QBBC option in this year's draft
  • Rivers: Rivers was a perennial Top 10 fantasy quarterback until last year, and with a new coaching staff in place I see him as a low risk bet to bounce back in a big way -- no worse than a top end QB2
  • Williams: Jeff summed it up perfectly
  • Hillman: Enters camp as the starter and let's remember that John Fox is TOUGH on rookie runners so the Montee Ball hype may be a bit out of control
  • Stacy: This is a crap shoot but Stacy has been coming off the board after Richardson and Pead and therefore represents the value play
  • Thomas: Thomas produces every time he's given touches
  • Sanders: A full-time starter on a team with Big Ben and Todd Haley calling the plays? Yes please
  • Floyd: Needs to clearly beat Andre Roberts in camp for a starting spot, but if he does he's one of the best wide receiver breakout candidates in the league
  • Wright: A PPR force even as a rookie, and clearly Jake Locker's security blanket. Expect a higher YPR this year but no drop off in targets
  • Brown: I have a severe man crush on Vincent Brown and worry that a healthy, productive preseason is going to rocket him up draft boards
  • Cook: The Rams gave him more guaranteed money than any tight end in league history, he's going to be asked to be a focal point
  • Daniels: A PPR gold mine who seems to be a forgotten man as people either target a stud earlier or wait for unproven, young fliers later

Chad Parsons: Torrey Smith in the fifth round and then whatever quarterback falls from the top-12 into the late seventh or early eighth round I am interested in for every typical redraft league this year. Things are lined up for Smith in Baltimore this year with the departure of Anquan Boldin. Smith has been more efficient as a red zone target than many would believe through two seasons and has more short and mid-range skills than he has been asked to execute thus far. The mantra for the quarterback position in 2013 is that it is deep. I prescribe to that belief and see little incentive to draft one before at least eight are off the board. Monitor the position in round six and seven to not get caught on the wrong end of a run and worst case, you get Tony Romo as QB12. That is an enviable situation for a team that can load up on backs and receivers for six to seven rounds to open the draft.

Stephen Holloway: I am going to tag along with Chad again, except this time I'll take the guy that is departing from the Ravens, Anquan Boldin as a nice value pick up in the 10th round or later. Boldin should pair up nicely with Colin Kaeprenick and become his security blanket, similar to how Kaepernick depended on Michael Crabtree down the stretch in 2012.

Miles Austin is another wide receiver who has seen a substantial ADP drop based on his injury and missed time a year ago. He should again be a viable target for Tony Romo. Austin has finished as high as WR3 and WR12 over the previous four seasons and finished as WR26 a year ago, even while playing through hamstring issues. He has a current ADP of WR34.

Sigmund Bloom: I'll piggyback (hoggyback?) on Steve here and second the choice of Miles Austin. Yes, he struggles with hamstring injuries, but any time that he is mostly healthy, he is a strong WR2. Easy pick in the eighth round. I agree with Chad that getting Romo as QB12 (or QB10 or QB11) is a desirable outcome at the position in drafts this year.

Danny Woodhead is a terrific running back target in the ninth or later in PPR leagues. He should be pretty much a 1/1A with Ryan Mathews under the new regime, and the Chargers sure look like a team that will be in passing situations a lot more than they'll be nursing leads this year. Woodhead could easily catch 50+ balls and surpass 1000 total yards.

Andy Hicks: Jason mentioned 12 guys, so I'll try to cut back to one per position.

At quarterback, like Jason I am looking at Dalton to be my backup, but expecting him to push whichever starter I draft. Cincinnati is building an impressive offense and most of the key cogs are 25 or under. If they can keep this unit together and fit, Dalton doesn't have to be a gunslinger to do the job.

At running back, another Bengal I like is Giovani Bernard. With Benjarvus Green-Ellis they have a back who can open the season and allow Bernard to be introduced gradually. Halfway through the year I fully expect Bernard to be dominating the carries and using his explosive skills to the fullest.

Antonio Brown is a guy I intend targeting at Wide Receiver. Pittsburgh keeps losing receivers in recent seasons and Brown is a guy who should be a clear cut WR1, dominating targets in Pittsburgh.

For tight ends, Tony Gonzalez and Vernon Davis are falling to the 5th and 6th rounds and look excellent value, but if we need to dig deeper I look to Brandon Pettigrew to be more like his 2011 form than last year. Reggie Bush should allow Pettigrew to be used more as a receiver and he in turn will have more room to make yardage.

Heath Cummings: Andy Dalton and Mike Williams are two guys I've ended up with a very high percentage of leagues. Even though Dalton has been mentioned several times here, I think he's still being sold short. I'm perfectly content to have him as my starting quarterback this year. He was #12 in fantasy points in 2012, and now he has another year of experience and a couple of new weapons at positions where he previously had very little athleticism. Mike Williams is a guy I've ranted about all summer, and I'm slowly starting to see his ADP rise at least in out expert mocks. I have a hard time waiting past the sixth for Williams, but his ADP says you should be able to grab him in the seventh. He's going to consistently see the #2 corner while Vincent Jackson and Doug Martin are the focal point of the defense. Against the same coverage, Jackson may still be the better option...but considering the lesser counterparts Williams will face I'd much rather have the fourth year wide out.

Ryan Hester: I'll also try to do this by position and keep it succinct because everyone has made great points before me.

  • Tony Romo: Only in a season in which he was injured early has Romo not been a solid QB1 in fantasy circles. His weapons are as good as they've ever been.
  • Jay Cutler: Marc Trestman's offense should get the ball out of his hands quickly, thereby mitigating the team's biggest offensive weakness during Cutler's tenure -- the offensive line.
  • Giovani Bernard: Why wouldn't you want the most talented running back on a very balanced team?
  • Fred Jackson: We're not a long way removed from Jackson's time as a top-five fantasy running back. He's expected to take a clear back seat to C.J. Spiller this year, but what if those expectations are wrong? What if Spiller gets hurt?
  • Kenny Britt: He's in a contract year if you believe in that sort of thing. Between injuries and shenanigans, he's never put it together for a full season, but I love big, fast receivers.
  • Anquan Boldin: He's unexciting physically, but he'll prove to be a reliable weapon for San Francisco. His red zone ability is still a strong suit.
  • Josh Gordon: Before the suspension announcement, he was a sleeper whose value was on the decline (because his ADP was increasing). Now, I believe that has swung the other way. It's only a two-game suspension, and he'll immediately be Cleveland's top option all over the field when he returns.
  • Martellus Bennett: Again, I believe in the Trestman offense. Also, the team has come out and said they want a more proper target distribution than 2012's "force-feed Brandon Marshall" motto. Cutler has made glowing comments about him already as well.

Jeff Pasquino: I'll stick with the earlier definition of Rounds 8-15, and rattle off a few:

And here are my reasons for each selection:

  • Sam Bradford: Hard to believe Bradford wasn't mentioned yet. His backfield lacks a bellcow, and he has plenty of targets now across the board with Jared Cook and Tavon Austin added to the mix. I love his upside and I think you might get a startable fantasy quarterback at a QB2 price.
  • DeAngelo Williams: Well covered already. Great choice.
  • Pierre Thomas: love the upside for the Saints and Sean Payton back at the helm. Thomas could be a solid RB2/flex option on the cheap.
  • Johnathan Franklin: all he has to do is outperform Eddie Lacy in preseason, which is certainly possible.
  • Joseph Randle: DeMarco Murray is the top rusher for the Cowboys, but he is brittle. Randle is one twisted knee away from feature back status.
  • Miles Austin: Well covered already, but another great choice.
  • Mike Williams: Quietly a strong receiver opposite of Vincent Jackson with the Bucs offering little else in the passing game.
  • Emmanuel Sanders: Great option for the Steelers as their second WR and a young / iffy running game.
  • Anquan Boldin: Mentioned already, solid pick.
  • Jared Cook: Love the Rams passing game.

Matt Waldman: I agree with Wood about DeAngelo Williams and Michael Floyd. Williams still has the skills to be a top-15 runner if he earns the consistent carries. It's a shame the full extent of his talent hasn't been exploited by his team. I think Carson Palmer has been knocking on the door of QB1 play for two years, but his dearth of surrounding talent in Oakland held him back. It also forced him to make aggressive plays that lead to mistakes. I don't think he'll make these same mistakes with the same frequency in Arizona, and the Cardinals have three receivers capable of 1000 yards. Floyd is obviously one of them and he's always been a skilled red zone player. This is a perfect match for Palmer.

Personally, I wouldn't touch Randle in Dallas. I think he's a pedestrian back who earned gargantuan holes at Oklahoma State. I wouldn't be surprised if Lance Dunbar forces a committee if the Cowboys feature back gets hurt again.

I'll take the risk with Josh Gordon. I think he has the talent to be a top-five receiver in NFL if he puts it all together. If not, but he stays on the straight and narrow, I still think he's a perennial top-15 receiver with what he can do right now.

Tony Romo is as safe of a quarterback as you can get in the mid rounds and I'll take another stab at Cutler this year. If Kapernick qualifies as a mid-round pick, I'm all over him, too.

Will Grant: I like the picks of Cutler and Bennett from Chicago. I think Bennett gives Cutler a second receiving option that he didn't have outside of Brandon Marshall last year, and I think Bennett is just the right mix of personality and talent to really make an impact in Chicago right out of the gate. The offensive line has nowhere to go but up in Chicago, and while they may take a few games to become a solid unit, Bennett can be the short check down and flat pass receiver that Cutler didn't have in Kellen Davis last season.

I think T.Y. Hilton has some upside in Indianapolis this season. Andrew Luck is the real deal, and while they won't surprise anyone this year like they did at the end of 2012, I think Luck has the tools to take a big step forward as an NFL quarterback. Reggie Wayne blew away everyone's expectations last year, and if he falls back to earth a bit, Hilton is going to be the guy who benefits the most. I like his upside over some of the other receivers mentioned here.