This is a quick-hitting piece with a few names you can get very cheap in almost every league. They are guys I own in many, if not all, of my own leagues. Each is the type you can drop without any regret if they don’t pan out, which means they’re nothing but upside. Here are a handful of cheap stashes for 2015.
Alex Smith – QB21.
Alex Smith’s fantasy production struggled in 2014, which should be no surprise given the well-known fact that he failed to throw a single touchdown to his wide receivers. But remember that in 2013, Alex Smith was QB16 in points per game. Now, he has a healthy Travis Kelce and an upgrade from Dwayne Bowe to Jeremy Maclin.
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Last year, Smith scored nearly 1/3 more fantasy points in games where Travis Kelce caught more than three passes. Having a Rob Gronkowski clone on your side does wonders for a quarterback. I don’t expect the Chiefs to dump their run-heavy game, but a healthy Kelce and talented receiver will allow them to open up the offense to a degree not seen last year.
While I would prefer Alex Smith as a streamer, I am content with him as a late QB2 option in 2QB and Superflex leagues. I believe he’ll outperform his QB21 price.
Andy Dalton – QB26.
This is a steal. Dalton finished in the top-five at his position two years ago, and now he gets back all his weapons from that year. Last year A.J. Green was often gimpy, and Marvin Jones and Tyler Eifert were gone all season. Now, the gang is back together.
Even last year, in memorably bad fashion, Dalton finished the year as QB18, eight spots higher than this year’s draft price. I see no reason to expect Dalton gets worse this year, and I am not worried that A.J. McCarron starts over a healthy Dalton at any point in 2015.
Dalton’s range of outcomes goes from outperforming his ADP by finishing around QB22 up to a top-ten finish if everything breaks right. I’ll take that for a QB26 price.
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Lorenzo Taliaferro – RB98.
The starter in front of Taliaferro, Justin Forsett had one good year at age 29, which is late enough in his career to raise concern that he might be a one-year wonder. Forsett is also small enough to cause me to worry about injuries.
The rookie, Buck Allen, did nothing productive this preseason, barely managing 2.5 yards per carry. Allen also caught his coach’s fury after fumbling in the end zone during the third preseason game. Athletically, Allen looks very similar to Lorenzo Taliaferro, who also has the benefit of a year of professional experience.
Taliaferro managed 4.3 yards per carry last season on 68 carries, and after Allen’s difficult preseason, I expect Taliaferro to be the primary backup when healthy. At an absurd ADP of RB98, he is also free even in the deepest of leagues. Because I envision him as the top back in case of a Forsett injury, I’m stashing Taliaferro in deep leagues.
Stevie Johnson – WR58 in Standard. WR53 in PPR.
In May, I wrote that Stevie Johnson was an underrated, undervalued draft target, and nothing has happened to change my mind. If anything, the four-game loss of Antonio Gates and Rivers’ praise of Johnson have only heightened my interest.
Jackson Safon picked things up again in August, showing us that Stevie Johnson is still an overlooked draft target.
Stevie Johnson is an incredibly cheap player who has an upside approaching 1000 yards this season, but he is only drafted as a sixth WR in ten-team leagues. I own him in 100% of my redraft leagues this year.