image courtesy of SportsIllustrated.cnn.com
However sexy and sleek the rookies may seem this year, make no mistake they are almost always over valued. To use a phrase coined by DLF‘s own Tim Stafford @DynastyTim each year we become enamored with the “shiny new toys“. We can’t get enough of these fantasy rooks. We obsess over 40 times, youtube videos, and ESPN highlights. I’m no different from you. I buy in too. However I am going to share an invaluable aspect of dynasty that can give you the edge over your league mates, and very well could mean the difference between finishing in the consolation bowl or hoisting your league trophy.
You know what that secret is? It’s really quite simple. The 2014 NFL rookies are just… rookies. That’s it. It’s about as plain as plain can get. We overvalue a a group of players who annually under perform our expectations. I will concede that 2013 brought a decent crop of productive freshmen: Eddie Lacy, Giovani Bernard, Le’veon Bell, Zac Stacy, Andre Ellington, Keenan Allen, and DeAndre Hopkins. Yet for each one of those players, there are scores and scores of David Wilson’s. I am not diminishing the value of rookie picks. Not at all. And if you have the 1.01, please, please don’t get cute and draft a RB…. If you have that pick you had better be selecting Sammy Watkins. I don’t care what team drafts him. He is going to be a special play maker in this league (see there I go salivating over rookie talent. I told you I wasn’t immune.) However I digress.
The point of the previous paragraph boils down to the fact that when we overvalue freshmen players, we undervalue proven veterans and sophomore players. These guys get swept under the rug, tossed in a closet like a sweaty pair of running shoes. Starting right now I want you to embrace that floor dust, and cherish those stinky shoes. You know why? Because at the end of the year that dust and old set of shoes wins championships. I’m serious. Don’t believe me, go look at the team who won your league last year. I guarantee that owner employed a balanced team of cagy veteran experience, sprinkled with a dash of young enthusiasm. Please tell me if I am wrong.
But you know what? He /she doesn’t have to be the only one to employ that technique. You can too. It isn’t all that hard. Over the course of this series let me show you a few players at RB, WR, TE, and QB that I am currently targeting in all dynasty leagues, and I think you should too.
This week, let’s delve into a few wide receivers I have pegged as buy lows this off season. These are receivers I am looking to pluck from the unsuspecting fold of my negligent league mates.
Andre Johnson: Andre is currently listed as DLF’s 23rd ranked WR. I can understand the low ranking, but I tend to be of the mind that wide receivers like AJ can play well into their mid 30’s before the wheels truly fall off. Johnson, at 32 is a physical freak, hard working, humble guy, who has shown no signs of slowing down. He is coming off another 1000 yard season, in which he had the likes of Matt “pick six” Schaub, and Case Keenum throwing to him. Can you imagine what Johnson could be capable of with Blake Bortles, Teddy Bridgewater, or Johnny Manziel? Don’t pass him up in 2014. Johnson is the type of player you ride into the ground on your dynasty team. Scoop him up while the rest of your league is looking to dump him for rookie lottery tickets.
Mike Wallace: Much was expected of Wallace when he signed with Miami last off season. His addition was expected to blow the top off defenses and elevate Ryan Tannehill and the Dolphins to the top of the AFC East, and back into playoff contention. Then the season started… Wallace lacked chemistry with Tannehill and together produced what most in the fantasty world would refer to as a mediocre year. He finished 2013 as the wr 26, and is currently listed at 34 in DLF’s rankings. For me, much like Trich last week, the hate for Wallace has gone too far. Entertain me if you will. Had Wallace finished with 70 more yards and perhaps 2-3 more touchdowns would you have considered 2013 a failure? I think the problem with him last year is that Miami didn’t use him effectively all season long. He had games where they made it a point to involve him, and in those games he produced. Give him another off season to build chemistry with Tannehill and a creative offensive coordinator, and I think we see a Wallace circa 2010/2011 reborn in 2014.
Jeremy Maclin: Maclin missed all of 2013 with a knee injury, but is apparently healthy and ready to begin off season training. He made it clear he wants a one year “prove it” deal, and recently did just that by signing with the Eagles for 2014. I advise buying now while he is still cheap. Talent has never been a question with him, however his injury risk has. Savvy owners would be wise to scoop him up for what should be a bargain. Once he takes the field again in OTA’s and preseason, the chatter will start, and his value will steadily increase. Jeremy is only 25 years old and presents significant value both this year, and going forward for your dynasty teams.
Reuben Randle: 2013 was supposed to be the year Randle stepped up and carved out a role in the Giants’ lineup. The stars aligned, Nicks and Cruz battled injuries all year and the running game was atrocious. Then Eli Manning decided to take the season off, officially crashing and burning the Reuben Randle coming out party. 2014 has a sense of deja vu, with all signs pointing to big things for the third year receiver. Hakeem Nicks is most likely gone, leaving a void on the outside for Randle to fill. At 6’2, he has the size to plug right in and fill that hole. The question is which Reuben will we see, the player we know he is capable of becoming, or the 2013 wide receiver who never could quite break out? If you’re asking it yourself, you can bet your league mates are too. I’m bullish on Randle, and if you have any owners who are waffling, take advantage of it and get him in the off season.
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Markus Wheaton: We always say we save the best for last, and in this article, it is no different. I will go on record as saying I love Wheaton this year. I loved him last year when he was late to camp due to graduation rules. I loved him when he didn’t play much last season, buried behind Emmanuel Sanders and Jericho Cotchery. I loved him before, after and while he was injured. Wheaton is by far my favorite buy low receiver. If you are skeptical please go to Draftbreakdown.com and watch his tape. If you do, don’t act like you’re not impressed. (shameless Anchorman plug). If you trade for no other potential break out wide receiver this year please, please trade for Wheaton. Pittsburgh has a penchant for drafting and developing stud wide receivers. Hines Ward, Santonio Homles, Mike Wallace, and Antonio Brown are four of the latest. Wheaton will be no different. The 23 year old is poised for a big 2014 season. In fact, with the exception of drafting Sammy Watkins at the 1.01, I would trade any other 2014 rookie pick for Wheaton without hesitating!