Written by Dave Cherney Follow on Twitter: @RoadWarrior_DFW
This time last year I wrote on a topic I particularly love in the Dynasty industry; finding gold when panning for under producing or lack of opportunity second, third, and in rare cases fourth year players. I profiled seven and I found two such nuggets.
The disappointment in my prognostication was hitting on a quarterback and tight end when I inevitably wanted to nail the ever sought after running back and wide receiver.
Perhaps this year will treat me kinder.
Colin Kaepernick – QB – San Francisco 49ers
The Prediction: With San Francisco’s unusually tough schedule, his opportunity could come sooner rather than later.
While the tough schedule didn’t play a major factor, an injury did. When Kaepernick came in for the concussed Alex Smith in week 10, Jim Harbaugh made one of the boldest moves in recent memory. Kaepernick would be named starter and it paid off.
Noting accuracy had been a problem, Kaepernick completing 62.4% of his passes dispelled that urban legend. Kaep would pass for over 1,800 yards and rush for an additional 800, including playoffs. If you had him on the end of your bench you were certainly rewarded.
Kyle Rudolph – TE – Minnesota Vikings
The Prediction: Many say the addition of TE John Carlson could stunt his potential growth. Even if that happens, Rudolph’s future looks bright.
Rudolph exceeded my expectations in an offense that was dominated by Adrian Peterson and smothered by Christian Ponder. Rudolph managed reception yardage of nearly 500 on 53 grabs while scoring nine touchdowns. Some still scoff that his touchdown total was what saved his season and I retort saying his production can only improve when the quarterback position is upgraded.
Ryan Mallett – QB – New England Patriots
The Prediction: No doubt, this is a risky play. He could rot on your bench if he doesn’t leave New England. But think of the possibilities!
The latest news out of Patriots camp is Mallett is wowing coaches, but we’ve heard similar praises about Matt Cassel whom the Patriots pawned along with Mike Vrabel to the Kansas City Chiefs for an early second round pick. However, Brian Hoyer who had been second on the Patriots depth chart was sent packing.
There has never been a question about Mallet’s football acumen and he possesses a strong arm yet his accuracy, quick read ability and footwork can still use some work.
Where the question remains is with Dynasty owners… are you willing to wait another year to potentially get rewarded? I am.
Mark Ingram – RB – New Orleans Saints
The Prediction: With Darren Sproles and Pierre Thomas still in the picture, Ingram’s a dicey play in 2012. But we’re talking Dynasty here, and he should have his day.
The least risky player on my board, yet his value was at an all-time low last year and the time to buy if you believed. He’s still going at a decent price this year as the 37th running back off the board.
If he hits, he could be the back I saw breaking out last year. I’m not as high on this prediction as previously seeing how the Saints continue to distribute the rock. If he doesn’t perform this year it most likely means it’s time to move on.
Brandon Saine – RB – Green Bay Packers
The Prediction: I wouldn’t expect much from Saine in 2012, but if you’re in a deep PPR Dynasty league, he’s worth stashing.
After showing a bit of promise in 2011, Saine would tear his ACL thus ending his season week- 6 against the Texans. Released by the Packers for failing his physical his future in the NFL appears bleak. Therefore, he should be released from any squad.
Greg Salas – WR – St. Louis Rams
The Prediction: Before fracturing his fibula, Salas had 22 receptions in his last 4 games and seemed to have built true chemistry with Sam Bradford.
Predicting wide receiving prospects for the Rams can be hazardous to your credibility.
Since first published, Salas is now on his third team. The Rams cut him; picked up by the Patriots at which point he was again released. He’s now with the Philadelphia Eagles and under the tutelage of Chip Kelly. It was reported that they released underachiever Mardy Gilyard, another Rams draft error, to make the necessary room.
Recommended to release back into the pool unless you have the deepest of squads or play in a return league.
Andre Holmes – WR – Dallas Cowboys
The Prediction: At his size he would make an ideal candidate. With Coale on the shelf with a broken left foot and Ogletree likely a camp casualty due to his lack of special team’s contribution, this situation bears watching.
Much like the Rams, predicting the third wide receiver in Dallas has been quite an unenviable task. Yet the answer to this question remains desirable. Having travelled through a similar trek through New England as Salas he now resides in the excess of receivers in Oakland, most of whom can’t be gauged due to inconsistent quarterback play.
Recommended waiver wire fodder.
Onward and Upward – Here’s to 2013
Denver Broncos – Brock Osweiler
6’7” / 242 lbs. / 22 years old / Signed through 2016
During last year’s training camp the Broncos second-round 2012 pick had the look of the unsure rookie he was. Entering 2013, he appears to be the future of Denver’s post-Peyton Manning regime.
Accuracy and pocket presence had been the primary knock on Osweiller yet reports from this year’s mini-camp appear positive. His arm strength was rarely questioned while the aforementioned trouble areas are improving. To no one’s surprise, a year working under Manning did him a world of good.
With Peyton recently turning 37 the development process of Osweiller will continue; anticipate yet another year of riding the bench. Yet he should be the prime candidate to take over for the Broncos in the not so distant future.
Washington Redskins – Kirk Cousins
6’3” / 214 lbs. / 24 years old/ Signed through 2016
Looking back to the 2012 draft when the Washington Redskins selected Cousins in the fourth-round after selecting Robert Griffin in the first, I recall media outlets and fans went for the kill regarding the Michigan State quarterback.
As fate would have it, Cousins would appear in three games beginning with a week-5 loss against the Falcons after a concussion forced Griffin to the sideline. He would throw his first touchdown pass; a 77 yard toss to Santana Moss.
His next appearance was against the Baltimore Ravens in week-14 when Griffin suffered a knee injury. Cousins rescued the Redskins with a late touchdown pass along with a scamper into the end zone for the two-point conversion putting the game into overtime in which Washington would eventually win.
His final appearance would be a vital contest against Cleveland. Cousins rallied the offense to a 28-point second-half, finishing the day 26-of-37 for 329 yards with two scores.
Early reports have Cousins taking snaps out of the ‘Pistol’ formation during OTA’s and the situation bears watching. This falls under my ‘Ryan Mallett conundrum’. Wait and watch; create a commodity that Washington can trade away in a year for draft picks and have his value rise on your Dynasty roster.
New York Jets – Bilal Powell
5’10” / 204 lbs. / 24 years old / Signed through 2016
A fourth-round selection by the Jets in the 2011 draft, Powell appeared to have promise which was quickly dashed when he struggled out of gate with limited carries while former Jet Shonn Greene continued to underwhelm his coaches.
The Jets ‘ground and pound’ rushing attack would finish twelfth in total yards with a paltry 3.8 yards per carry. Changes were in order.
Many will point to the additions of Chris Ivory and Mike Goodson. The problem as I see it is Ivory has never been able to stay healthy and Goodson not only has legal problems but he never met a football he didn’t like to fumble.
If nothing else, Powell has proven to have a nose for the zone as four of this touchdowns came from inside the 20. His career high game stats were 11 carries, 42 yards and two scores along with two catches for 18 yards.
While these numbers will hardly blow anyone away, you can acquire him on the cheap and if his opportunity doesn’t come or he underwhelms much like Greene, throwing him back to free agency abyss shouldn’t be too painful.
Detroit Lions – Joique Bell
5’11” / 220 lbs. / 26 years old / Signed through 2013
What do Buffalo, Philadelphia, Indianapolis, Philadelphia, and New Orleans have in common? They were each places Bell stopped by for a cup of coffee before finally getting his chance to sign and shine with Detroit in 2011. That was quite the journey.
He will never be mistaken for a bell-cow back. However if you’re looking for a Reggie Bush / Darren Sproles type back, he’s your man. I’ll admit I was shocked the Lions signed Bush in the offseason. That said, I believe there is still a place for Bell on your bench.
Last season Bell caught 52 balls for 485 yards which is nothing to sneeze at in PPR leagues. Add that to having a 5.0 YPC average on 82 totes. The main difference between Bush and Bell is Bush has a tendency to break tackles where Bell has yet to show that part of his game.
Unlike Bell, Bush still carries the ‘injury’ prone tag. Many prognosticators predict big things in 2013 from the Dolphins castoff. Time will tell how he’ll fair on turf versus grass. In addition, should Mikel Leshoure not impress during training camp this underrated back may get his chance to shine once again.
Oakland Raiders – Juron Criner
6’3” / 224 lbs. / 23 years old / Signed through 2016
Last year, fifth-round rookie Juron Criner took OTA’s by storm. However, despite the new rookie salary cap he was late putting pen to paper thus leaving him behind the eight ball starting the season; practically nonexistent on the Oakland depth chart.
For several years the Raiders have been known as a burial ground for the position due to spotty quarterback play. In 2012, Criner would only total 16 grabs for just over 150 yards and a solo score.
Entering the 2013 season, the Raiders wide out position still remains a mystery. While Darrius Heyward Bey was dispatched, players such as Denarius Moore, Jacoby Ford, Rod Streater and Josh Cribbs keep the waters muddied. I’m banking that Criner’s day will come sooner than later and I am buying.
Minnesota Vikings – Jarius Wright
5’10” / 182 lbs. / 23 years old / Signed through 2016
A 2012 fourth-round selection by the Vikings, Wright entered the league without celebration despite setting school records for receptions (66), yards (1,117), and single game (281) for the Razorbacks.
Upon entering the NFL, his preseason got off to a shaky start as he sustained an ankle injury and remained inactive for the first nine games even though the ankle had fully healed. Inevitably his day would come after former Viking Percy Harvin sustained a season ending ankle injury. Wright would then get the call.
In the final eight games for the Vikings, including playoffs, he totaled 24 grabs for 323 and two scores.
In 2013, Harvin has departed, Cordarrelle Patterson was drafted to play opposite newly acquired Greg Jennings and there appears to be little competition for the slot position. I’m banking on Wright and he will be someone I’ll be keeping on my radar.
San Diego Chargers – Ladarius Green
6’6” / 228 lbs. / 23 years old / Signed through 2016
While at Louisiana Lafayette, Green showed flashes of brilliance; especially in jump ball goal line situations. Not to mention he played both the flanker and H-back position showing his versatility.
The Chargers, in need of a replacement for the aging Antonio Gates, spent a fourth-round pick in the 2012 draft with hopes of finding the heir apparent. Unfortunately, Green’s rookie year fell flat as he was on the field a paltry 39 plays and caught a mere four balls while being asked to block six times.
The good news coming into 2013, the Chargers released Randy McMichael. The disturbing news is San Diego acquired John Phillips from the Cowboys and Dallas Walker who is an unproven UDFA who may not make the practice squad.
I strongly believe Green’s development is still a work in progress and I will be holding him on the end of my bench in any league I can acquire him on the cheap
Going out on a limb predicting these types of players are vital to your Dynasty existence. I’ve certainly had my share of misses, but the hits feel so good.
Until next year… happy sifting.