Okay, maybe I won’t get all those things, but I will get great NFL players for less than their numbers insist. If you’re not picking at the top of your draft then you won’t get LT or AP. If you’re not the one guy making a first round mistake, Tom Brady won’t find his name on your roster either. But that’s okay; you can still dominate your league.
I’ve set up a little versus action below. I have a big name and a small name, both with very similar production and ability. A little comparison and contrast will help you on draft day. Pick the best player on the board, but don’t pick a name – this is a numbers game where sticks and stones don’t do jack and names will put you on your back.
Drew Brees VS David Garrard
From a distance, these two signal callers couldn’t be farther apart. Drew Brees is getting drafted in the 3rd round of most fantasy drafts for the second straight season, while David Garrard, though finally being picked in fantasy drafts, is garnering a 9th round pick on average, or is just about the 94th player taken in Yahoo drafts.
But when you break down the fantasy ability of these two players, things get a little closer. Drew Brees may have the flashier numbers, sure, 28 touchdowns compared to just 18 for Garrard, and 4428 passing yards compared to Garrard’s 2509. You’d think Brees produced a much better fantasy season than David. Not by as much as you’d think. See, Garrard played in just 12 games, counting the game he got hurt. So, his 211 fantasy points over 12 games becomes a lot closer to Brees’ 302.
In fact, Garrard’s points per game total (17.58) was just about one point behind Drew’s total of 18.8 points per game. You might think that Brees is more of a sure thing, and you are probably right, but when it comes to taking Brees or Garrard, you might want to consider the type of receiver you can get in the 3rd round compared to the 9th round. TJ Houshmandzadeh, Colston, Holt, Shad Johnson, Plaxico, Brandon Marshall, Wes Welker are all 3rd round picks while Joey Galloway, Cotchery, Santana Moss, and Anthony Gonzalez are all 9th round receivers.
Garrard may still be a little behind Brees, but last year was his first campaign as a starter and he likely has yet to reach his pinnacle. And in my mind, he’s a much better value around the 9th round than Brees is in the 3rd.
Peyton Manning VS Jake Delhomme
Okay, so this comparison isn’t going to trick many people – heck, I’d even take Manning over Delhomme, but for the price, Jake has to be more worthy of a selection. Jake is coming off a major surgery but, get ready for this Colts fans, so is Peyton. In fact, Peyton’s infection in his knee has me more worried about lingering effects then Jake’s elbow. But lets leave injuries aside for just a second and get back to a numbers game.
There was only one quarterback in the NFL that had more fantasy points per game than Jake Delhomme did last season. Yes, you guessed it, Tom Brady. An I know he only played in three games, but Jake put up 24 points per game last season, better than Manning (20.6), Romo (22.2), Big Ben (20.8), or any other quarterback without an S on his chest like Tom.
When you factor in that Manning is getting selected as the 12th pick overall and Delhomme is riding 108 down the street, Jake gets even prettier. In 2004 and 2005 (his last two seasons in which he played all 16 games) Jake tossed 29 and 24 touchdowns respectively. He threw 8 in three games last season.
Listen, I’m not going to say that Manning isn’t a good bet to put up great numbers, he’s the definition of consitency, but Jake has had some nice seasons too, and the additions of Jonathan Stewart, D.J. Hackett and Mushin Muhammad are three more reasons to expect big things out of the Carolina signal caller.
Reggie Bush VS Frank Gore
Okay, I’m kind of cheating here because Reggie Bush and Frank Gore are both big names, and in reality, Reggie is a much bigger name than Frank – but not in fantasy circles apparently. In Yahoo Averages Reggie Bush is getting selected as the 62nd player overall while Frank Gore is getting taken in the 1st round of almost every single league, getting picked in the top 10 in most drafts. It doesn’t seem to matter if it’s a PPR league or a non-PPR league, Gore is still getting selected an average of 4-5 rounds ahead of Reggie.
I like Gore and think his upside this season is grand, but for the first time in his football career, I think people are undervaluing Reggie Bush. In leagues that don’t award points per reception (PPR) Bush still finished just 1 point per game played behind Gore – (10.4 to 11.5). In PPR leagues, it’s Bush that holds a 4 point per game played average over Gore. Now I know Frank played through some injuries during the season, and the 49er offense was abysmal, but Reggie had some struggles too and eventually went out for the season after his 12th game of the year.
Reggie was expected to change the face of the league, be one of the best running backs of all time, and sprint all over the field like Walter and Barry Sanders and LT. And he’s obviously not that type of football player and this season people are out to call Reggie Bush a bust. He hasn’t looked great in the pre-season, but I still expect him to have a solid season, much better than the 60th pick overall.
I would still rank Frank ahead of Reggie, but if you can wait and get Reggie in the 5th or 6th round, you’ve found yourself a steal. Reggie will always be a big part of the Saints offense and if you are in a PPR league, ride Reggie’s bad hype and grab him late, he won’t disappoint.
Earnest Graham VS Steven Jackson
It may be tough to call out Steven Jackson’s bum year in 2007, but I’m not willing to make him the 3rd overall pick in Drafts right now. He’s a question mark, holding out from camp and such, and he’s coming off a very bad season (like most Rams in ’07). I think he’s better than the Jackson we saw in ’07, but to get his services you are blowing a Top 5 overall pick. To garner Earnest Graham’s name on your roster, you can usually wait until the 8th round. To be safe, really go for it and grab him in the 7th. Graham didn’t become a full time starter until Week 7 against the Lions, and he really took off from there.
At 5’9” and 215 lbs, Earnest plays a lot bigger than he is. He can really catch the ball (49 grabs for 330 yards on the season) and he had 5 or more catches in 5 of his last 10 games. Graham rushed the ball 222 times for 898 yards, averaging 4 yards per carry behind an exciting young offensive line in Tampa Bay. Despite not starting and getting big carry totals until later in the year, but still playing in 15 total games, Graham still averaged just two points less per game than Steven Jackson did in Steven’s 12 contests. He produced more fantasy points on less touches (275 for Jackson 271for Graham) though, which should further explain what I’m trying to say.
Steven Jackson has shown what he can do, and he’ll always get selected ahead of Graham as long as he’s in the league, but Graham is a much better value and even has a chance at out-producing Steven over a 16 game season.
Some people are worried about Caddy Williams coming back and stealing touches, but I wouldn’t let that bog me down. Graham has produced better than Williams ever has, and he just signed a new contract that should keep him toting the ball in Tampa. 3rd or 80th – you make the decision.
Wes Welker VS Anquan Boldin
This is a trick because these guys are both steals and you can get them consistently after grabbing guys like Torry Holt and Plaxico BUrress. First of all, Boldin always produces at an unreal pace when he’s on the field. He’s been a little injury prone, but the bottom line is that Matt Leinart loves to throw him the ball, you know, because he fights like hell and always makes a lot out of a little, and he’s always good. He’s getting picked later because Larry Fitz has been overshadowing him for the last couple of seasons, but don’t feel bad about taking him as your #1 or #2 wideout, he’ll produce like one.
Wes Welker isn’t getting much credit for his 112 catch performance from a year ago, but I don’t see why not. Many people don’t expect those numbers again, and I must say, I don’t think he’ll mirror those numbers either – I think he’ll increase his totals across the board. 120 grabs for 1200 yards and 10 scores wouldn’t stun me at all. Listen, the Patriots don’t go sign career special teamers to big long contracts for no reason – they knew what they were doing when they snagged Welker from the Dolphins. New England had a tough time getting Moss singed again, but Welker is already locked away. What does that tell you? You might not have expected Welker to produce like he did, but the Patriots sure did. That should mean something.
Yeah, I do what I want, even change up my own articles and throw the rules right out the window. It’s good to be me.
So there it is, a few versus games that should get you going. All I’m saying is, just because your team looks great on paper doesn’t mean they’ll produce like Fantasy Champs. Believe in the little guy and you shall be set free!