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Faceoff: Mid-round Target

August 24th

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

Andy Hicks: I'll go even better and name a few:

  • Randy Moss and Darrius Heyward-Bey at Wide Receiver
  • David Wilson, Mark Ingram and Daniel Thomas at Running Back
  • Carson Palmer and Alex Smith at Quarterback

Carson Palmer and Heyward-Bey are part of an exciting group in Oakland, but the connection these two developed as the season concluded points to a way better than ADP for both of them. For Palmer, he can add Denarious Moore, Jacoby Ford, Jacoby Ford and Juron Criner, with McFadden back to fitness thrown in for good measure.

Alex Smith and Randy Moss should be part of a 49er renaissance in the passing game. Frank Gore has peaked, while the backup options are nothing special. Moss, Michael Crabtree, Mario Manningham and Vernon Davis should see a significant increase in passing stats and Moss has looked more like his old self to date. What I particularly like about Moss is when he is on a new side, with a full off season, he is usually sensational. While a return to the top 3 is highly unlikely, he should exceed his current ADP easily.

Mark Ingram and Daniel Thomas are 2nd year backs who should get plenty of opportunity and played through significant injuries in their debut season. Darren Sproles won't see many rushing attempts, while Pierre Thomas is basically a spare part these days. If Ingram can show improvement and fitness, he is gold. For Daniel Thomas, Reggie Bush isn't a full time back and Thomas looked really good until he got injured and tried to play through it. Miami can hardly look worse than last year and Thomas should play a big part in moving the team on an upward spiral.

If I have good starters at RB, then I'm likely to look at David Wilson. Ahmad Bradshaw is used to sharing a role, but Wilson looks to be a better back than Brandon Jacobs ever was. While others pay too high a price in Trent Richardson and Doug Martin, the rookie I like can be had MUCH later and is in a much better situation than 2 teams who combined for 8 wins on teams that struggled to run the ball.

Ryan Hester: Every year, I do an exercise where I review Average Draft Position data and slot players the rounds they're being selected. From that list, I delete the names of the players I feel aren't good values, keep the names of the players who are good values if selected there, and highlight the names of the players for whom I'd even consider reaching a round early to get. In the interest of brevity, here are the guys I've highlighted in Rounds 6-12.

  • RB: Isaac Redman (6th Rd ADP), David Wilson (9th Rd ADP), Ronnie Hillman (10th Rd ADP), Kevin Smith (12th Rd ADP)
  • WR: Torrey Smith (7th Rd ADP), Reggie Wayne (7th Rd ADP), Darrius Heyward-Bey (10th Rd ADP), Nate Washington (11th Rd ADP)
  • TE: Fred Davis (8th Rd ADP)

Redman will be the starter and predominant 3rd-Down back on a team looking to focus on running more this year. Wilson has great skills and is behind the very fragile feet of Ahmad Bradshaw. Hillman suits Peyton Manning's stretch running game and plays behind an aging back in Willis McGahee. Kevin Smith is the current starter in Detroit and dominated games last year when healthy.

Torrey Smith's elite skill aligns very well with his QB's best skill (throwing deep). Reggie Wayne may be old, but he could be rejuvenated by the QB change in Indy. The same can be said for Heyward-Bey and Palmer that was said for Smith and Flacco. Nate Washington was the Titans' best WR when Kenny Britt was out last year, and Britt's antics are making the team angry with him.

Fred Davis will be the recipient of many on-the-run bootleg throws that will allow Robert Griffin III to only have to read half of the field. Davis can execute at all levels of the defense.

I don't often recommend reaching for players, but the later the round, the less risk it carries. Also, if you're stuck without a tight end and Round 7 rolls along, grabbing Davis to ensure you at least get a top-half TE1 might be a wise move. The same thought process applies for each other player in the list relative to their positions.

Sigmund Bloom: Peyton Hillis - he's likely to get 250+ carries as the Chiefs won't turn Jamaal Charles into a 300+ touch feature back. He's reunited with offensive coordinator Brian Daboll, who was the architect of the Cleveland offense in 2010, when Hillis had his best year as a pro. He's playing on a one year "prove it" contract. I also expect the Chiefs to be a winning team and provide Hillis with lots of leads to protect and drives to finish.

Heath Cummings: I hate to piggyback on Bloom, but I think he's absolutely right on Peyton Hillis. To add to what he's said, Hillis is in incredible shape and was going full speed every play at camp last week. He looks like a man on a mission. Another factor in this is the addition of Eric Winston and Kevin Boss to the run blocking scheme. The right side of the Chiefs line was terrible at run blocking last season and should be much better in 2012. Jamaal Charles will certainly get his share of the pie, but with Matt Cassel at quarterback this team is going to take ground and pound to a whole new level.

Jeff Pasquino: Good call on Peyton Hillis - KC is going to run a ton this season.

Lots of names can be dropped here, but I still like Willis McGahee. He's not in the Top 25 RBs as far as ADP, going about Round 6, but I think he has lots of upside in the Denver offense. While many are trumpeting Ronnie Hillman, head coach John Fox loves veterans over rookies every single time. McGahee is a 1,000+ yard back just waiting for you once you load up at WR and wait to grab your second running back.

Other names I liked here are Mark Ingram in New Orleans and Darrius Heyward-Bey at wide receiver for Oakland. Both players can be used to form formidable RB2BC and WR3BC options.

Will Grant: Here are a couple of mine:

  • Ryan Williams - I think he finishes ahead of Wells this year and if he comes on strong at the tail end of the pre-season, he might just become a solid RB2 for your fantasy team. He's not going to threaten then top 12 for fantasy backs this season, but Top 24 is well within his ability.
  • Kevin Smith - I think it was Bloom who tweeted that handcuffing Ryan Matthews with Kevin Smith was a smart play, but Smith be good for the long pull as well. Mikel Leshoure is falling like a stone because of the drug suspension, and you can pick him up for a song now. Grab Smith in the mid rounds, handcuff with Leshoure late and wait for Best to retire.
  • Jay Cutler - It all comes down to the offensive line. If they can get the LT position under control and keep folks healthy, Cutler is going to have a solid year. He's going as a QB2 in most leagues, and if you pair him up as part of a QBBC, you might be surprised at how well he does this season. The new offense promises to give him more control and the addition of Brandon Marshall and Alshon Jeffery gives him two big targets that he hasn't had since leaving Denver. If things break right, he could push 3800-4000 passing yards this season. Not bad for QB15.

Mark Wimer: In drafts where I've been at the bottom of the order, and had to watch Jimmy Graham and Rob Gronkowski fly off the board while I watched enviously, I've been able to snag Owen Daniels and Tony Gonzalez at VERY late points in the draft (or very cheaply, in the auction format) - so if you miss out on the clear studs at tight end, in my opinion you can wait for several rounds and then scoop Daniels or Gonzalez and have a rock-solid starting tight end. Neither will challenge Graham or Gronkowski, but either guy could finish in the top five at tight end, making your starting tight end better than over half of any given 12-team league's starters.

Other mid-round players I've targeted this year are Matt Ryan/Tony Romo/Eli Manning, all of whom have a top-five finish at quarterback within reach, but they didn't command the premium picks that Rodgers/Brady/Brees/Newton/Stafford have claimed. However, with Ryan's hot start to preseason his value is inflating quickly - I've seen him go before Newton in the last week, so Romo/Eli Manning may be the two "mid-round" quarterbacks I'd target heading into the final weeks of August.