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.
In week three of this series, I tackle the TE’s, a position where every dynasty owner is looking to unearth the next Jimmy Graham, Gronk, Julius Thomas, or Jordan Cameron. Let’s take a look at a few players I would happily snag this off season.
Dennis Pitta: I think it’s fair to give Pitta a pass for last year. What was expected to be a break out season for Joe Flacco’s security blanket ended as a wash due to a leg injury in 2013. Yet there are things to be excited about with his return to full health this off season. The Baltimore offense struggled mightily without him last year, and recently jettisoned Houston Texan coach, Gary Kubiak is the new offensive coordinator. Kubiak fostered (pun intended… wait for it…) a TE friendly system during his tenure in the lone state. Owen Daniels and James Casey both experienced success in Kubiak’s offense. I see Pitta much in the same vein as Daniels. Why not kick the tires on Pitta and see what you can trade for him… go ahead low ball the owner.
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Dwayne Allen: Allen’s fantasy hype lasted all of one catch in 2013. While it was for a TD, he sustained a season ending injury. He should return to what is now a re-tooled Colts offense, bolstered with the signing of Hakeem Nicks, the continued development of Da’Rick Rogers, and T.Y. Hilton coupled with what I expect to be a resurrected run game. Reggie Wayne returns from injury as well. While it may seem that there are too many mouths for Luck to feed, I counter that Allen gives Luck a much needed red zone target and should morph into a security blanket if you will for Luck in 2014.
Kyle Rudolph: Pegged as a breakout waiting to happen in 2013, Rudoph’s year went south about as fast as his teams, dooming his owners franchises along the way. Ponder doesn’t instill much confidence as a qb, but you know who does? Norv Turner. We all witnessed Jordan Cameron go from obscurity to fantasy glory almost overnight under Turner’s tutelage. His offensive scheme is extremely TE friendly. The Vikings also allowed John Carlson to sign elsewhere. Rudolph should see the targets this year, and let’s all hope the Vikings upgrade their QB in the draft. Worst case scenario Rudolph finishes just outside the top 10. Best case, top 3 TE. At his going price, I’d happily invest.
Adrien Robinson: I cringed when I heard Mathew Berry say on the 06010 podcast that the Giants “have no pass catching options at tight end.” I threw my hands up in the air as if to say “what about Robinson Berry?” I will admit that out of the five tight ends I have previewed in this article, Robinson is by far the biggest shot in the dark. He was deemed a project tight end when drafted in 2012. So far he’s lived up to that moniker. His playing time the past two years has been zero to none, and he is likely on your waiver wire, or rostered in only the deepest of leagues. However, the physical talent in undeniable, and much like the above mentioned Vikings, the G-men have a new offensive coordinator of their own. Ben McAdoo, former Green Bay Packers tight end coach brings a scheme that has been tight end friendly to NYC. With Robinson currently manning the top spot on the TE depth chart, I think it’s fair to say we should once again expect big things.
Travis Kelce: Drafted in the third round of the NFL draft by an exquisitely well mustachioed Andy Reid, Kelce much like the majority of the tight ends I have written about saw his 2013 fortunes dashed by injury. A popular dynasty rookie pick, Kelce was injured early and subsequently placed on season ending IR. He should be fully healed and ready to bounce back giving Alex Smith a big target for his pass du jour: the check down. There isn’t much between him and a starting role. Fasano is merely a blocking tight end (trust me I suffered through years of him butter fingering passes in Miami). While Sean McGrath, and Tony Moeki are still rostered by Kansas City, neither of them possess the after the catch skill of Kelce. Additionally, both are from a previous regime and not hand picked by “Big Red” himself. Kelce shouldn’t cost you too much, and could pay dividends early.
As always, you can find me @realabc on Twitter. I look forward to continuing to bring you dynasty content year round.