I am thinking about the stock market today. Not just because it involves my "day job" but because I am thinking about which players I feel are overvalued and which players are undervalued for the upcoming fantasy football season. I have seen a lot of rankings (by the way - none better than the ones on faketeams.com) and I have a few exceptions to them. As Warren Buffet once said "Price is what you pay, value is what you get." Drafting a fantasy football team is all about value. Value is created by buying when others are selling and selling when others are buying.
Here is who I am buying in 2014 based on the various rankings I have seen:
Roddy White and Julio Jones, Atlanta Falcons
Roddy and Julio put up gaudy numbers in 2012. 2013 was an injury plagued season for both of these WRs. This year the Falcons spent their number one pick on Jake Matthews a big OL from Texas A&M. That along with the addition of OL coach Mike Tice and Gabe Carimi will hopefully help keep Matt Ryan upright. Last year Pro Football Focus graded this unit at #26 of all NFL teams. While I don't think Ryan is a tier one QB all you have to do is look at 2012 numbers for White and Jones to see what this unit is capable of. They each topped 1100 yards and combined for 17 TDs. If they can stay healthy I am BUYING the Atlanta wideouts. One website had Roddy rated below Wes Welker and below Victor Cruz as WR18. Now that's value! I don't know if you will find much value in Julio but the only two WRs I would rank higher would be Calvin Johnson and Dez Bryant. I would rather wait while others draft Demaryius Thomas, A.J. Green or Brandon Marshall knowing that Julio Jones is in my back pocket.
Arian Foster, Houston Texans
No Ben Tate equals more touches for Foster. Last year Foster's back problems slowed him right out of the gate and he was the biggest enigma of 2013 drafts. When on the field he was effective averaging 4.5 YPC. This year Foster gets the benefit of new coach Bill O'Brien who plans to use him in space. Look for Foster to be a workhorse back who will excel in PPR leagues. I've seen Foster ranked as RB10 on some sites. I would definitely take him ahead of Alfred Morris and Le'Veon Bell. I might even consider taking him over Marshawn Lynch in a PPR format.
Trent Richardson, Indianapolis Colts
My man crush on Trent is widely known across the five fantasy leagues I was in last year. I traded down in one league's snake draft because I would have been too embarrassed to select Trent at number three overall. What a disaster! This year Trent gets the benefit of training camp with the Colts. He also gets the benefit of Pep Hamilton whose reliance on the run is borderline embarrassing for a team with a QB like Andrew Luck. I expect a big bounce back year from Trent who put up 950 yards and 11 TDs in 2012 to go along with 51 receptions. The average ranking for Trent so far is an RB30! I can get Trent for a lower price than Toby Gerhart, Steven Jackson, Joique Bell and Ray Rice? Yes, please!
Jay Cutler, Chicago Bears
Speaking of man crushes this isn't one of them but my Chicago Bears roots run deep. Cutty gets the benefit of a year in the Trestman offense. He also gets the benefit of arguably the best WR tandem of any team in the NFL in Brandon Marshall and Alshon Jeffery. All I'm sayin' is that CBS has both Marshall and Jeffery in the top 10 at WR but Cutty is QB12. There is a disconnect there and disconnects provide player value. Would I pick Cutler over Drew Brees, Aaron Rodgers or Peyton Manning? No! But as a value play if you believe (as I do) in waiting on your QB Cutler might be the best value on the board. I would take him over Colin Kaepernick or Nick Foles.
Eli Manning, New York Giants
Playing on the "wait for a QB" theme again Manning was an unmitigated disaster last year for fantasy owners. The two problems, as I see it, are the offensive line and Rueben Randle. The Giants OL last year ranked 28th overall according to Pro Football Focus and number 31 as a unit in pass blocking. They added depth and a stud to the line through the draft. Odell Beckham, Jr. should put pressure on Randle to learn the playbook or ship out and Ben McAdoo (Packers) replacing Kevin Gilbride as Offensive Coordinator could only help. Buddy Ryan wouldn't have punched him on the sideline without a reason don't you think? Remember - Eli has won more Super Bowls than Peyton and while I wouldn't draft him over his older brother I would have confidence in Eli for a solid comeback campaign and a possible top 10 QB in 2014.
So if you are looking for value in your fantasy drafts this year these are my candidates. Remember - successful drafting means you buy when others are selling. If you don't get the stud you want early here are some guys you can wait on and scoop up in the later rounds because your opponents have written them off. Buffett would say "Be greedy when others are fearful." You can win a lot of fantasy football leagues on that advice.
Feel free to comment below or hit me on Twitter @bradcoustan