Written by Kyle Hall
Draft day is fast approaching. A majority of fantasy football leagues will be drafting over the next 10 days. You have researched, decided on your studs, tried to pinpoint sleepers, and labeled your busts all in hopes of winning the elusive championship in your league. So lets fast forward to draft day, you have now drafted thru the first 7 rounds. You have your projected starters for your offense in place. You feel confident so far, but the biggest thing that is out of the control of you the owner and your team is injuries. When the injury bug bites, it can devastate your team and leave you scrambling. No one knows if the backup is capable of being a starter, or if the waiver wire going to have anyone else worthy? Can you pull off a trade without sacrificing other studs?
My thought, why not build a bench FULL of potential every week starters. I know, easier said then done.
The following list is a group of 10 players that are available in most drafts from round 8 and on that could have either an immediate impact on your team, and potentially be a staple in your starting lineup by the end of the September.
Carson Palmer: Palmer had 8 games last year where he scored 16 points or more in standard leagues and 10 game where he scored 14 or more. Those aren’t huge numbers but they were consistent. Let’s remember last year Palmer played for the Raiders and was without a true #1 wide receiver. Palmer has now moved to sunny Arizona and things couldn’t look brighter. He has Larry Fitzgerald to throw to. Add to that mix Andre Roberts (who led Arizona in catches last year), Michael Floyd, and Rob Hausler and Palmer has weapons he hasn’t had in years! A final note, Bruce Arians also loves to throw the deep ball which is a specialty of Palmer’s. Big things are possible in Arizona this year!
Brandon Weeden: A Brown’s QB a potential starter in fantasy? Really? Yes really! The preseason can be a tricky time to weed out potential stars and those just looking good playing against 3rd stringers. Weeden however has only played against the 1st string defenses and looked great! He had an up and down season last year as a rookie, that is true. However, this year has brought in not only a new head coach but also a new offensive coordinator in Norv Turner, who made Phillip Rivers into a stud during his prime a few years ago.
The new browns coaching staff also loves to throw the deep ball and with Josh Gordon and Greg Little flying down the sidelines and newly discovered gem Jordan Cameron coming down the middle as Weedens safety net, this team will move the chains. Don’t forget they also have a stud named Trent Richardson to keep the defenses honest! If you want to load up on RB’s and WR’s early. Weeden will be out their waiting for you late in the draft and making you look like a genius all year long!
Bryce Brown: Brown literally hit the ground running last year. After not seeing much of the field last year LeSean McCoy went down injured in week 12 and Brown blew up for over 160 yards rushing and 2 Td’s . He was eventually slowed down but the potential was obviously noticed! Enter new coach Chip Kelly this season and the recipe for points was born. Their preseason has been labeled a “Vanilla” serving of what is to come. Guess what, it’s still fast! McCoy is great and I see him being a top 10 back without a doubt but even he will get tired as they fly thru plays. The eagles will score points this year no doubt about it! Bryce brown should easily find his niche in this offense and will make a great weekly flex player who could blow up at any time!
Mike Tolbert: The true TD Vulture. Over the last 3 years he has gotten a minimum of 7 TDs each season. He is not going to get you 100 yards rushing each game but he is likely to punch one in. I reference him to Jerome Bettis as there were games where Bettis may have only 5 yards rushing but got 3 TD’s.
Tolbert can catch the ball out of the backfield as well making him more than one dimensional. The panthers also want to protect their prized possession in Newton. I don’t see him running many QB sneaks this season. This is a player to keep an eye on and maybe a final round snag as a flex that could make some waves! Note: Jonathon Stewart is still battling his surgeries and may be placed on the PUP list for the first 6 weeks of the season and could bump Tolbert up to #2 on the depth chart.
T.Y Hilton: Hilton burst onto the scene last year as a rookie during the second half of the season scoring 6 TD’s and breaking 100 yards receiving 4 times in the team’s final 7 games. It is true that he was a bit of a boom or bust player at times having only 2-3 receptions in some of those games. However, he was just a rookie. This season I see a bit of a “passing of the torch” from Wayne to Hilton as the Colts continue to move forward. Wayne will still be quite relevant but look for Hilton to pass Heyward- Bay on the depth chart within the first 2-3 weeks of the season and be the true 2nd option for Luck. 75/900/9 is real possible numbers for the young fellow! Grab him in the 8th round and smile all the way to the playoffs!
Chris Givens: This is a simple one. Tavon Austin is getting all the accolades and credit as the teams #1 receiver. Sam Bradford actually has a few good weapons. Givens is a speed guy. Austin is a slot receiver. While defenses are paying attention to Austin, Givens will be flying down the sideline making big plays. The rams are deeper than most give them credit for and Jared Cook, Daryll Richardson, and company will also keep defenses honest. Givens has been lasting until roughly the 9th or 10th round in most drafts. A clear 2-3 rounds after Austin. Austin has the upside if your league counts return yards but Givens is that homerun threat that can put you over the top some weeks!
Alshon Jeffery: Not every throw can go to Brandon Marshall. Jay Cutler may want to but, it just can’t happen. Brandon Marshall is on record saying Jeffery was weak last season and has helped him bulk up. Jeffery has the height and speed to be a weapon and now has some added bulk. Jeffery could be in for a breakout season in this new Bears offense behind head coach Marc Trestman. Grab him late and feel great!
Jordan Cameron: See Brandon Weeden. This kid is good and will be a household name this season! He has lit it up in the preseason so far and with Rob Chudzinski and Norv Turner historically using tight ends big things are possible this season in Cleveland!
Jermicheal Finley: We love him. We hate him. We love him. We hate him! It has been an up and down career for the talented TE. He has had problems with injury and drops at times and looked unstoppable at others. Finley spent the off-season getting himself in peak condition as well as building rapport with QB Aaron Rodgers. He has been raved about by him performances in training camp and it has translated over to the preseason games. Look for Finley to truly be relevant in the balanced Green Bay attack.
Nelson and Cobb have both been fighting injuries and if they can’t get healthy Finley will be asked to step up even more! He is currently being taken as the 10th -15th TE drafted giving you plenty of time to pick up this gem in the later rounds!
Arizona Defense: Everyone is talking up the Seahawks and 49ers in the NFC West while the Cardinals have quietly built a solid team. There defense is led by pro bowler Patrick Peterson and others continue to step up. Don’t use an earlier round draft pick on either of those other teams mentioned. Load up on other RB’s or WR’s and grab these guys right towards the end of the draft! You won’t regret it!