5 Players Whose Fantasy Stock is Set to Soar
Fantasy football stock is set to soar for five players
Each season there are players whose stock begins to soar toward the end of the preseason. These players typically help their respective fantasy owners win their fantasy football league trophy. Last season, fantasy owners who drafted players like Alfred Morris, Russell Wilson, and Cecil Shorts in the late rounds most likely made a deep run in the playoffs.
Morris was a rookie who the Washington Redskins drafted in the sixth round. His stock slowly began to rise when Head Coach Mike Shanahan announced that Morris would be the team’s starting running back for the season opener.
Wilson was a rookie who the Seattle Seahawks drafted in the third round. His stock slowly began to increase when Head Coach Pete Carroll announced that Wilson had beaten out Matt Flynn for the starting quarterback job.
Shorts was a no-name wide receiver who was in his second season with the Jacksonville Jaguars. His stock began to upswing when people noticed that Blaine Gabbert really liked throwing the ball to him.
These three players had their stock increase tremendously throughout the season. They went from virtually being players that fantasy owners routinely passed over into highly valued commodities. This season, injuries, trades, and free agency has led to more players seeing their stock rise. Some of them are obvious like the Atlanta Falcons signing Steven Jackson and the New England Patriots signing Danny Amendola.
Fantasy owners do not always win championships by drafting the obvious players. There are five players whose stock is set to soar that could reward their respective fantasy owners with a championship.
No. 5: Rueben Randle
The New York Giants have Rueben Randle listed as the third wide receiver on the team’s depth chart. Victor Cruz, the player right in front of him, is going through rehabilitation for his injured right heel.
Cruz is hoping to return for the season opener against the Dallas Cowboys, but it is not a definite. Eli Manning had great chemistry with Randle last season against the Cleveland Browns as Randle totaled nine catches for 82 yards.
The Giants' number one wide receiver is Hakeem Nicks. Nicks is a very good player when he is healthy, but he has missed nine games in his four-year career.
Randle’s stock could continue to skyrocket if Cruz suffers a setback in his rehabilitation or Nicks sustains another injury. Randle’s average draft position in Yahoo leagues is 132.9, which means that fantasy football owners are drafting him after an injured player like New York Jets wide receiver Santonio Holmes.
Holmes was recently activated off the Physically Unable to Perform List, which means he is not 100 percent yet.
No. 4: Cleveland Browns defense
Last season, 20 defenses finished with more fantasy points than the Cleveland Browns’ defense in ESPN Standard Scoring Leagues. Despite a terrible season, a few bright spots last season indicate more success this season.
The Browns had four games where they scored at least 10 fantasy points. Two of those games were against good offenses, the Pittsburgh Steelers (20 fantasy points) and the Cincinnati Bengals (13 points).
They play the Steelers and Bengals a combined four times every season because they are in the AFC North division. The Browns will also face bad offenses like the Jacksonville Jaguars and the New York Jets.
The Browns finished the season in a tie for the 11th most sacks last season, 38.0. This means that they averaged a little more than two sacks a game.
During this past offseason, the Browns were able to sign former Baltimore Ravens linebacker Paul Kruger. Kruger had 9.0 sacks last season and he should help the Browns increase their sack total this upcoming season.
The Browns have an underrated defense that fantasy football owners could pick late in the draft. The average draft position is 126.3 in Yahoo leagues.
Very few people thought the San Diego Chargers' defense would be great last season, but they finished with the fifth-most fantasy points among defenses. Fantasy owners are selecting the Browns' defense on average after the Washington Redskins' defense, which ranked near the bottom in points allowed per game.
No. 3: Jay Cutler
Jay Cutler had a terrible fantasy season for the Chicago Bears, as he finished 21st among quarterbacks in ESPN Standard Scoring Leagues. Cutler has a great chance to improve upon that season because of the offensive line’s development and a new head coach.
Opposing defenses sacked Cutler the fifth-most times among quarterbacks last season, 38. The media blamed the team’s offensive line for allowing that to happen.
The team’s offensive line grade has increased from a D+ to a C, according to CBSSports.com, because they brought in three new starters. A better offensive line will allow Cutler to have more time in the pocket to throw accurate passes to his receiving corps.
The Bears fired their head coach, Lovie Smith, following the end of the last season and the team replaced him with Marc Trestman. Trestman was an offensive coordinator in the NFL for eight non-consecutive seasons.
In three of those eight seasons, Trestman’s offenses ranked in the top 10 in total yards and points scored. He has two parts needed in a great offense with a very good running back (Matt Forte) and wide receiver (Brandon Marshall), so all he needs to do is to push Cutler to perform better.
Cutler’s average draft position in Yahoo leagues is 123.6, which is later than when fantasy football owners are drafting Michael Vick who is also coming off a terrible season. If Cutler can take fewer hits and is able to give the football to his two biggest play-makers, then his stock should skyrocket immediately.
No. 2: Danny Woodhead
Despite playing as a change-of-pace running back for the New England Patriots, Danny Woodhead managed to finish in the top 25 in ESPN Standard Scoring Leagues last season. This season, Woodhead has a chance to do even better than last season with the San Diego Chargers.
People are scared that Woodhead will perform worse than last season because he will be playing with an inferior quarterback to Tom Brady this season in Philip Rivers. Rivers is a good quarterback and in fantasy football the best players typically have the greatest opportunities to contribute to their respective team.
One thing Woodhead has done well so far in his young career is catch the football. The Chargers are going to use Woodhead as they used Darren Sproles when he was on the team.
In 2010, Sproles was able to accumulate more than 700 yards in his final season with the team. Last season, Woodhead totaled more than 700 yards while having to compete with two other good running backs for playing time in Stevan Ridley and Shane Vereen.
The team is projecting Woodhead to be the third running back listed on the depth chart, according to ESPN.com. Ryan Mathews and Ronnie Brown are the two players listed ahead of Woodhead on the depth chart.
Mathews has played in 38 out of 48 games in his three-year career. Brown is past his prime and the team used him last season as a chance-of-pace back.
Woodhead’s average draft position in Yahoo leagues is 125.7, which is after fantasy football owners typically draft Green Bay Packers running back Johnathan Franklin and Tennessee Titans' Shonn Greene. Franklin, who the Packers selected in the fourth round of the 2013 NFL Draft, and Greene will have small roles this upcoming season with their respective teams. If Mathews sustains an injury, then Woodhead’s stock will elevate tremendously.
No. 1: Jermichael Finley
Last season, Green Bay Packers tight end Jermichael Finley had a very terrible season as he finished with only two touchdowns and never gained more than 72 receiving yards in a game. This season, it appears that Finley could be in for a 2011-like season.
In 2011, Finley had 767 receiving yards and caught eight touchdown passes. Fantasy owners who drafted him last season are most likely weary to take another chance on him.
Finley has a great chance to have a better performance because the Packers did not re-sign veteran wide receiver Greg Jennings. This will allow Finley to have to compete with one less player to catch passes from one of the best quarterbacks in the game, Aaron Rodgers.
The reports about Finley out of training camp and the preseason have been positive. This includes a report from Rodgers:
"I think a guy like Jermichael Finley's had an excellent camp," Rodgers said, according to Mike Vandermause-USA TODAY Sports. "It's fun to watch him make some of the plays that he wasn't making three or four years ago as far as being able to read a defense quickly and diagnosis it and get into his route. He's been very consistent. He's going to be a big weapon for us."
Anytime a quarterback says something that positive about a member of their receiving corps, they typically go on to have great seasons. Finley’s average draft position in Yahoo leagues is 91.7, which is after when fantasy football owners typically draft Houston Texans tight end Owen Daniels whose quarterback is not the same caliber as Rodgers.
If Rodgers decides to reward Finley for his development, then his stock could reach the level of a top-five tight end.
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