I would not have gone sky-diving when I was 8-years-old. My remaining life expectancy was far too great to take a risk like that so early.
Now that I’m 32, relying on a parachute packed by some stoners at the foot of a mountain makes more mathematical sense. If the chute doesn’t open, I’ve experienced a lot on this planet and it’s been a good run.
We should think about fantasy drafts the same way. Target safe high-floor players in the early rounds, accept more risk in the middle rounds and take wild upside shots in the late rounds. If these late-round fliers (Rounds 11-14) don’t work out, we can simply move along for a waiver-wire gem early in the season.
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Dual threat QB
Some think waiting for the Cam Newton, Tony Romo, Eli Manning tier is practicing a Late-Round Quarterback strategy. It’s not. Letting those guys pass us by and then going with two high-upside cheapies like Sam Bradford and Jameis Winston creates more value shots in Rounds 7-10 at tougher positions. Bradford is fully healthy and at the controls of a Chip Kelly offense that has produced 65 total touchdowns out of quarterbacks over the last two years. Winston has a fantasy-friendly aggressive style, three big/strong weapons, a poor running game and an awful defense that will set up shootouts.
Second to one
Taking shots on secondary options in high-powered offenses has multiple benefits. First, there’s standalone value in a No. 2 or 3 wideout on a team that projects for 600-plus pass attempts. There’s also the massive upside that comes if an injury strikes someone higher on the depth chart. Davante Adams has the trust of Aaron Rodgers, as evidenced by the 11 targets in last year’s playoff loss to Dallas. The Colts didn’t use the No. 29 overall pick on Phillip Dorsett to have him sit on the bench. And whoever wins the No. 3 battle in New Orleans between Nick Toon and Brandon Coleman will be worth a shot – Marques Colston is on his last legs.
Bet on talent
Another approach to mining for late-round fliers is selecting talent in spite of seemingly poor situations. A good example is Brian Quick, a 6-foot-3 specimen who is coming off a severe shoulder injury and plays for the low-powered Rams. Marvin Jones is having a shaky training camp and the Bengals have a ton of mouths to feed, but he scored 10 touchdowns while playing 48 percent of the snaps in 2013. If Victor Cruz (knee) can’t get right and Rueben Randle can get his head on straight, he’s a post-hype sleeper. And David Cobb certainly has the ability to beat out Bishop Sankey for the lead part of the Titans’ running back committee.
LeGarrette Blount couldn’t pass his conditioning test at Patriots camp right away, but he’s off and running now. The powerful Blount has reportedly run circles around the other backs, setting himself up to monopolize all early-down duties in an offense that no longer has Stevan Ridley or Shane Vereen. Blount, who has scored 16 times in 18 career games as a Patriot (including playoffs), is a fine mid-round target in touchdown-heavy leagues. The one-game suspension shouldn’t affect his place on draft boards at all.
More NFL WR Fliers
1. Stevie Johnson, Chargers – Better than former slot man Eddie Royal. Plus, Antonio Gates is suspended and Malcom Floyd is about to retire.
2. Leonard Hankerson, Falcons – A Kyle Shanahan special, Hankerson is set to pounce if rapidly declining Roddy White can’t get it done.
3. Terrance Williams, Cowboys – Volume was a major issue for T-Will last year. But Romo will have to throw more this year with no DeMarco.