There are a lot of owners out there who got steals on draft day and don’t even know it yet.
As the depth charts shook out, injuries hit and personnel changes were made, a fistful of players came out on top. It’s never too early to send out some trade proposals, whether it’s before Week 1 or right after. The late risers:
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Initially, the regime change in Tampa didn’t look like a good thing for Doug Martin. They were talking up a committee approach, with rookie Charles Sims handling all the passing-down work. But since then, Sims broke his ankle and Martin has been able to change the staff’s opinion of him as a receiver. Now we have a three-down back for run-first head coach Lovie Smith. Furthermore, the Bucs were able to swing a trade for guard Logan Mankins – one of the best run-blockers of our generation.
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Rookie Terrance West was supposed to challenge Ben Tate for reps in Cleveland. It never happened, as West has been slow to transition from I-AA Towson to the big leagues. So Tate, who has tons of NFL experience in the zone-blocking scheme offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan has installed, is going to be an every-down player. He’ll be running behind an underrated yet strong offensive line on a team that will have to run the rock a ton to hide their passing “attack” of Brian Hoyer, Miles Austin and Andrew Hawkins. If Tate can stay healthy, he’ll put up big numbers.
Hey, players can get better. A low-upside slot man through his first two NFL seasons, Mohamed Sanu broke out as the star of both the Bengals’ offseason and training camp. In preseason action, he posted a 7-126-1 line on just 65 preseason snaps. With Marvin Jones breaking his foot, Sanu is set to play in all formations for at least the first five weeks – if not more. He’s a sneaky WR 3/4 candidate that’s on waivers in most leagues.
These running backs are one injury away from big value. They need to be owned.
Knile Davis, Chiefs – This Andy Reid scheme is the most RB-friendly in the entire league.
James Starks, Packers – A two-down back, but would get the TD chances if Eddie Lacy went down.
Chris Polk, Eagles — Darren Sproles is a package player, nothing more. Polk is Shady’s direct backup.
Avoid these borderline players in Week 1
Jarrett Boykin – Locked as a No. 3 WR in Green Bay with Aaron Rodgers. But playing exclusively on the outside, he’s going to see a lot of Richard Sherman Thursday night.
Ladarius Green – The matchup vs. Arizona is perfect, the usage is not. Antonio Gates is still the man in all “11” and red-zone packages.
Devonta Freeman – Steven Jackson’s hamstring is 100 percent and Freeman still has to pass Jacquizz Rodgers. The impressive rookie is a stash only.
Wes Welker’s four-game suspension opens a huge opportunity in Denver’s league-best passing attack. Andre Caldwell will be the first man up on the outside, kicking Emmanuel Sanders into the slot. But Cody Latimer is far superior in both size and talent, and will rotate in plenty – especially in the red zone. No one should be desperate for a Week 1 plug-n-play yet, so the optimal play is to stash Latimer and let him climb into a bigger role. Even after Welker’s suspension is over, he’ll be a prime candidate to miss more games thanks to his concussion history.