5 Boring Picks That Can Help Win Your Fantasy League
For one reason or another, every year fantasy football owners are hesitant to take certain kinds of players, even at points where they present great value. That’s one of the worst mistakes you can make.
These following “blacklisted” players are typically seen as boring or unexciting picks that don’t appeal to people as much as the hot new rookie that’s going to finish with 600 yards. Sometimes owners don’t want players they’ve already owned or players that have been around for a while. Sometimes owners are just overly cautious.
Whatever the case may be, if these kinds of players were faceless, nameless entities that just had a likely stat projection tied to them, they would all be drafted significantly higher than they’re currently being taken. For 2014, these are our top 5 boring picks that won’t win you any post-draft awards, but could very well help you win you a fantasy football trophy.
5. Stevan Ridley
The #10 fantasy RB from 2012 left a bad taste in a lot people’s mouths when he fumbled the job away and dropped to #30 in 2013. Now people are over Ridley and they gloss over his name in their draft lists to the point where it’s gone too far. He’s the same player in the same situation that made him a top option two years ago yet now on average he’s being drafted towards the end of the 6th round as the #31 RB.
If a near worst-case scenario had Ridley finishing 30th, why would he be drafted the same place or even lower? The fumbles could send Ridley to the bench at any point but the New England Patriots were clearly comfortable enough with him to let LeGarrette Blount and his 153 carries leave for fairly cheap money in free agency.
They did draft RB James White in May, but Bill Belichick has more than once described White as more of a Shane Vereen-like change of pace player. Ridley and his career 4.5 YPC are going to get the majority of the early-down carries and probably all of the goal line carries for New England’s still-powerful offense. The Patriots had the 9th most rushing attempts in football last year.
It may be hard to stomach the pick, especially if you took him last year, but all Stevan Ridley has to do is not fumble the ball excessively and you’ve got yourself a top 15 fantasy running back at the very least. That’s all it will take. Overlook the name but don’t overlook the player and the situation.
4. Marques Colston
Although it doesn’t feel like that long ago when he broke out as a 7th round rookie, Marques Colston is nearing the end of his shelf life as a fantasy star. By now almost everyone has had a chance to own him and like a used toy he’s being discarded. Right now he’s a 7th round pick and the 32nd wide receiver by ADP. He’s being taken behind the likes of Cordarrelle Patterson, Jeremy Maclin, Julian Edelman, and Sammy Watkins. Absurd.
Some owners are understandably frustrated after Colston limped to the finish line as the #27 wide receiver in fantasy last year, but it was just the second time in eight years he did not top 1,000 yards with the New Orleans Saints – the last time being in 2008 when he missed 5 games. Colston was dealing with a foot injury for much of 2013 and clearly was not as effective as he usually is.
Still, Colston got better as the season progressed and after he sat out a week to get some rest, he closed out the final 8 games of the regular season with 48 catches, 601 yards, 4 touchdowns. That’s a typical Colston 1,200 yard pace over 16 games. In the playoffs, he hung 11 catches, 144 yards and a score on Seattle’s defense. He can still play.
I’m not going to argue that Colston is as explosive as he’s ever been, but there’s no reason to believe his numbers are going to trail off in 2014. As far as I’m concerned, there should be no difference in his draft stock between this year or the year before or the year before that – nothing has changed. You can pretend he’s Larry Fitzgerald if that makes you feel better about it, just take the value that’s there with Marques Colston.
3. Ben Roethlisberger
Whether it’s because of his long surname, or because he’s not your typical pretty boy quarterback, or maybe because the Pittsburgh Steelers uniforms aren’t cool enough, Ben Roethlisberger is a player annually underrated in both in NFL and fantasy football circles. At the moment he has a 12th round ADP and is the 19th QB being taken.
Now, some of that is undoubtedly due to Big Ben’s minor injury history – he’s missed 10 games over his past 5 years – but when he plays he’s a fantasy starter. He often does it in spite of his offensive line and his overall receiving talent. In 2013 he quietly was the #12 fantasy QB (higher depending on format). The 4 years before that he missed a handful of games so let’s look at his fantasy points per game: #12 in 2012, #12 in 2011, #5 in 2010, and #3 in 2009.
Apparently no one likes drafting him, but Roethlisberger should be the poster child for waiting on taking your QB. Even if you have to plug in another guy for a couple of games per season, Ben is going to give you, at minimum, starting-level fantasy QB numbers that will be competitive with all but the top few players at the position.
2. Roddy White
At this point in his career, “slow and steady” would be the perfect way to describe Roddy White. And for a long period of time during the 2013 season, he wasn’t even that anymore due to ankle and hamstring injuries. Neither of those two statements are endearing to most fantasy owners as evidenced by White’s current 5th round ADP.
I can’t totally fault people for not wanting an aging, non-flashy player coming off a disappointing season for the Atlanta Falcons, but you have to remember White is only 32 years old. That’s creeping up towards the end, however it’s not uncommon for receivers, especially those that rely on great route running like White, to be productive until 35 or 36.
Prior to last season, White was coming off a string of 6 straight seasons of at least 83 catches, 1,153 yards, and 6 touchdowns. His previous 3 years he was averaging 100 catches. Even at the tail end of 2013, Roddy proved he wasn’t done when he dropped 43 catches for 502 yards and a pair of scores over his final 5 games.
Roddy White may not be a sexy target in drafts like teammate Julio Jones, but he presents significantly better value as a guy that can offer WR1 numbers at a WR2 or even WR3 price. Don’t overthink it – you’re doing your team a serious disservice if you pass on White for guys like Percy Harvin or DeSean Jackson.
1. Toby Gerhart
A 27-year-old career backup and pigment-deficient running back on the Jacksonville Jaguars of all teams… that certainly doesn’t sound very exciting. The average fantasy football fan must agree as Toby Gerhart’s ADP slots him in the 4th round, 22nd among RBs. But if you overlook the noise you may see a back with a tremendous opportunity and potentially a career path similar to Michael Turner’s.
Both Gerhart and Turner started their careers backing up all-time talents – Adrian Peterson for Gerhart, LaDainian Tomlinson for Turner. Neither back was capable of overtaking the starter, but in limited action they fared well – Gerhart at 4.7 YPC, Turner a bit ahead at 5.54 YPC. Both went to bad teams in free agency – teams who were going to lean on the running game as they developed a young quarterback. A huge plus for Gerhart is he has shown passing-down skills Turner never had – 77 receptions for Gerhart to the 11 Turner had in San Diego. It can’t hurt that Jaguars GM Dave Caldwell was with Atlanta when they came up with and executed the plan of signing Turner.
The Jaguars shelled out money to pound the rock with Gerhart. Successful or not, he’s going to get a ton of touches as both a runner and as a receiver, and he’s plenty big enough to plow into the end zone when the team gets in close. If the Jaguars’ offense moves the ball better than expected and Gerhart proves to be sort of an undercover talent like Turner was, Gerhart is a “boring” pick that could flirt with low-end RB1 numbers. That’s how you win fantasy football leagues.