5 Basement Teams and Players to Lift Your Fantasy Team
5 Basement Teams and Players to Lift Your Fantasy Team
At the beginning of every season, I look at my new fantasy football magazine and I go through players who I “know” will be studs, “think” will be studs, and players that I flat out think “they stink.” We all have various ways to determine this. This player could have burned us last season when we picked them early and them did nothing for our team. This player could be on the rise of their career or even in the twilight.
However, one of the most important things that I tend to look at is the team that a specific player plays for to determine if I think they could/will have a good season or not. For many people, they tend to look at the “good” teams. Everyone of course loves the Denver Broncos' offensive options (except for their running game right now) and always wants to have a part of their team being thrown to by Peyton Manning or having Manning himself. During last season, I decided to look at the teams that don’t exactly get the most love on the sports shows and talk radio or have just been bad for a long time. The team for me was the Buffalo Bills and the player was C.J. Spiller. This strategy helped me get to the championship last season in my fantasy football league, and I am going to pass that advice on to you for this season.
Here are the top five surprise teams to look into for some fantasy starters and depth in your bench this season.
5. St. Louis Rams
The Rams come into this going against one of the toughest divisions in football, if not the toughest. Playing against stud players like Colin Kaepernick, Marshawn Lynch, and Larry Fitzgerald would be tough for any team to do, and they have to do it twice for all of them. However, I feel that they have some players of value during this season. Rookie first-round pick, Tavon Austin (wide receiver) is set to be one of the most used players on this team. Look for him to get plenty of touches. Daryl Richardson could also be a steal for anyone looking for a running back in the mid-late rounds of the draft. Richardson has already been named the starter on opening day, and look for him to keep this role through the season. Also, watch out for newly signed tight end Jared Cook if you need a tight end to play during your starter’s bye week. Finally, if these players get hot, look for Sam Bradford to finally turn into the pick everyone in St. Louis expected him to be when they drafted him number one overall in 2010.
4. Jacksonville Jaguars
For the past few seasons, there has been just one reason for people to pay attention to Jacksonville Jaguars games. That reason has been Maurice Jones-Drew. Maurice Jones-Drew, or “MJD,” has been one of the most stable running backs in the game since he entered the league, except for last season. However, over the past two seasons, the Jaguars have been struggling at best. This year's team still may not do very well, however, some of their top players may surprise you during the season. We have already mentioned MJD who I feel will have a bounce back year, proving that last season was a fluke. Two other players to keep an eye out for are their two main wide receivers, Cecil Shorts and Justin Blackmon. Shorts had a coming out season last year catching 55 targets for 979 yards and seven touchdowns. Look for more of the same with Shorts this season. Blackmon is a totally different case. Blackmon was a first round pick for the Jaguars in 2012 but did not play up to his potential. Blackmon didn’t hit his stride until Week 11 of the season when he went for seven catches, 236 yards and a touchdown. But even after that, he went up and down the rest of the season. The Jaguars hope that he will continue to progress this season and be the guy that they drafted in the first round.
3. Kansas City Chiefs
The one thing you can say has been consistent about the Kansas City Chiefs is their inconsistency! One year, they will win the division or make it to the playoffs and the next year they may win five or six games. This has been the Chiefs ever since Joe Montana left. This year, they have a new coach in Andy Reid and a new offensive philosophy. In this new system, there are a few players that I think will benefit greatly and help your fantasy team out this season. The number one guy is Jamaal Charles. Everything that has come out of camp is that Charles could be the next Brian Westbrook, and I buy into that 110 percent. Charles should be a top five pick easy this year. After that, you have some guys who could sneak into the mix of your fantasy teams such as Dwayne Bowe and new quarterback Alex Smith. Bowe, for some reason, has been an afterthought for many people this season, but I am not sure why. Out of the six seasons Bowe has played, he has had five seasons at 800 yards or better. Yes, the last two seasons he has fallen off with touchdowns, but look who he has had to throw the football to him (Quick – someone name me the Chiefs’ starting quarterback last year! Anybody? Exactly!). Bowe will benefit greatly from Alex Smith who has had a resurgence of his career the last two seasons with the San Francisco 49ers under head coach Jim Harbaugh. Alex Smith statistically was having the best season of his career last year until a concussion gave Colin Kaepernick his chance which he used to take the San Francisco 49ers to the Super Bowl. Watch for Alex Smith to cause Bowe and Charles to have career numbers and help the Chiefs to become relevant again.
2. Cleveland Browns
Growing up in Pittsburgh, you learn three important things about sports: Franco Harris did catch the ball during The Immaculate Reception, Mario Lemieux IS BETTER than Wayne Gretzky, and the Cleveland Browns stink! However, Pittsburgh Steelers fans have to be careful this year, because the Browns have a serious chance at being one of the better teams in the division. Call me crazy, but one of the things fantasy owners need to watch out for this year is the Browns’ defense. This is a part of a team that is often overlooked in fantasy football, but I think that the Browns’ defense could be the sleeper of the team defense category. After all of the early picks they have had in many drafts and the addition of Paul Kruger, one would think the flower that is the Browns' defense would have to bloom sometime!
Then there is the offense. Obviously, Trent Richardson is the best player on that offense. His rookie season was proof of why the Browns took him so early in the draft. However, there are two other players I would like to mention: Jordon Cameron and Josh Gordon. Let’s start with everyone in Cleveland’s new crush, Cameron. Cameron could be the new Rob Gronkowski. He is tall, he has good hands, and he has an offensive coordinator in Norv Turner who has a history of making tight ends rich, i.e. Antonio Gates. Josh Gordon also could have a nice year under Turner (after he serves his two game suspension). Last season, Gordon had 50 catches for 805 yards and five touchdowns. There is a great deal of upside in this team for the first time in a long time.
1. Arizona Cardinals
In 2008, the Arizona Cardinals represented the NFC in the Super Bowl and lost a close game to the Pittsburgh Steelers. This loss seemed to start a chain reaction that has become Arizona’s downfall. Since that Super Bowl, the Cardinals have been a shadow of the team’s former self. Just like the St. Louis Rams, they are in a very tough division and have some very difficult division games every year. This offseason, the Cardinals made some huge changes. The biggest thing they did to their fantasy value was hire offensive wizard Bruce Arians, ironically the Steelers’ former coordinator. This will do more to boost the offense than anything else. However, besides having one of the best wide receivers to ever play the game in Larry Fitzgerald, they have many more weapons to work with this year. The Cardinals brought in quarterback Carson Palmer to help solidify that position. Also, another man to watch on this team is someone Arians trusted during his Steelers' days, Rashard Mendenhall. Mendenhall was a former first round pick in the actual draft and many fantasy football drafts. After his quick exit from Pittsburgh he looks to make a new start in the desert, and I think he will. Also, the two wide receivers to line up next to Fitzgerald, Michael Floyd and Andre Roberts will be able to benefit from a new quarterback as well as the double teams that Fitzgerald is likely to see. These two wide outs are not number one receiver material, but I think that they both have the potential to be very solid as a flex play or a number two receiver during a bye week situation.