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Fantasy Spin: Lessons Learned In 2013

Posted Dec 28, 2013

Joe Dolan is the managing editor of FantasyGuru.com and a host for SiriusXM Radio. A former writer for PhiladelphiaEagles.com, Joe still contributes to the site with on-camera segments and written columns. He can be heard hosting “SiriusXM Fantasy Football Gameday” every NFL Sunday from 1-7 PM on Sirius 210, XM 87.

What lessons did you learn in fantasy football this year?

I swear, this is going to be the last year I’m going to be fooled. The talent at the running back position convinced me (and a lot of other people) that this would be the best year for drafting that position in years. I was salivating at getting a top-half first-round pick and using it on a young gun like C.J. Spiller or Trent Richardson.

Obviously, those picks (and other first-round backs) went bad for a variety of reasons. But it also highlights something that the supposed talent at the position hid – even the best backs in the NFL may only play half of their respective teams’ snaps any given week. A true impact wide receiver is on the field for almost the entire game. That’s not to say I’m eschewing drafting a running back ever again in the first round (LeSean McCoy, Jamaal Charles and Matt Forte were some of my favorites who did work out), but the top of the receiver pool year in and year out seems to be easier to predict.

Also, this lesson is one that’s learned every year, but never assume you have enough depth. You might have opted to avoid picking up Keenan Allen early in the season because you had Julio Jones, Randall Cobb and Reggie Wayne on your team. Say you were a LeSean McCoy owner who didn’t want to drop Bryce Brown for a guy like Allen. Well, how did that work out? If you’re constantly working the waiver wire for depth at any position, you’re going to be more likely to withstand injuries. I think handcuffs are less viable now than ever before, and while it’s certainly OK to hold one if possible, they should be the first players to go once some good depth/upside options arrive on the wire, which should be as soon as Week 1 in most leagues.

Who are some guys who might not have had big seasons who could be considered as keeper-worthy players in deeper leagues?

QB: Mike Glennon, Bucs – The Bucs clearly have tried to limit Glennon’s exposure this year, which is totally fine, and he has some stuff he needs to work on. But mentally, he clearly understands NFL passing concepts, and he managed to put together a pretty impressive rookie season despite lacking weapons. The Bucs have a coaching situation that may be in flux, but Glennon has put enough on tape to warrant a further look next season.

RB: Christine Michael, Seahawks – Michael has only 18 carries in his rookie season, but there are many who thought he was the most talented runner in the 2013 NFL Draft. Despite Seattle already having Marshawn Lynch and Robert Turbin, it was willing to use a second-round pick on Michael, which tells you a lot. He could be a star in the future.

WR: Justin Hunter, Titans – Hunter played sparingly as a rookie and still has to work on his off-field issues, which was one of the major reasons this first-round talent slipped to the second back in April. But of his 18 catches so far in 2013, 4 went for touchdowns, and it seemed like every time he caught a pass, it was for a big play. He’s got a shot to form a dangerous pairing with Kendall Wright as early as next season.

TE: Dwayne Allen, Colts – I’ve talked about guys like Ladarius Green and Zach Ertz at various times this year, whether on camera or in this column, but Allen may be the real sleeper keeper value here. The Colts really missed him when he went down early in 2013, because he could have been a key player when Reggie Wayne went down. I’m still lukewarm on Coby Fleener, who has been inconsistent this year despite all the opportunity in the world.

Who will be overdrafted next year?

I hate to say this, but Rob Gronkowski. I can see someone, yet again, drafting him in the fourth round and saying to himself, “Eh, I’ll just hold onto him and have a difference-maker when he returns.” But this is now a guy who has had to recover from serious arm, back and knee surgeries in the span of a year. He’s missed 14 games the last two seasons combined, and remember the back problem cost him his final year of college ball in 2009. When Gronk plays, he is a difference maker. But I didn’t see him go once in a draft this year where I felt I’d be comfortable taking him. He misses too many games.

Which productive player is the best candidate for a dropoff in 2014?

This is another answer that makes me cringe just to write it, but I’m going to say Marshawn Lynch. I absolutely love Lynch, and owning him the last three seasons in Seattle made your team really hard to beat any given week. But his style is so physical and demanding, and he had to compensate for a really bad offensive line this year. Lynch is currently sitting on five consecutive games below 4.0 YPC. He’s getting tired and the Seahawks would love to give him some time off. And for the future, he has some intriguing talent behind him in Robert Turbin and, especially, the aforementioned Christine Michael.

AWARDS

Fantasy MVP: Peyton Manning, Broncos – Easiest award I’ve ever given. An NFL record in TD passes just a couple years after career-threatening neck surgery. He made every player around him fantasy relevant. The true definition of “valuable.”

Waiver Wire Gem of the Year: Keenan Allen, Chargers – This is anecdotal, but at FantasyGuru.com we got more “thank yous” for the quick notification to pick up Allen than for any other player this year. He was a consistent starter once he entered the lineup early in the year.

Breakout Star: Josh Gordon, Browns – Gordon’s numbers are ridiculous. With one game to play, he leads the NFL with 1,564 receiving yards, and leads all wide receivers with 23.0 FPG in a PPR league. Oh yeah, he missed two games because of a suspension. And on top of that, his quarterbacks this year were Brandon Weeden, Brian Hoyer and Jason Campbell! Imagine what he could do with some stability.

Biggest Disappointment: Trent Richardson, Colts – This is almost as easy as giving Peyton the MVP, which tells you all you need to know about Richardson’s season. A fantastic talent who hasn’t shown it in the NFL, I can’t think of a single player who needs an offseason more than Richardson does. He also holds the distinction of being a disappointment for both the Browns and the Colts this year. Hey, at least Cleveland turned him into a first-round pick.

Meet The Fantasy Guru All-Star Team

QB: Peyton Manning, Broncos (31.2 points per game)

RB: LeSean McCoy, Eagles (20.8 points per game) and Jamaal Charles, Chiefs (25.5 points per game)

WR: Josh Gordon, Browns (23.0 points per game), Calvin Johnson, Lions (21.8 points per game) and Antonio Brown, Steelers (19.4 points per game)

TE: Jimmy Graham, Saints (19.0 points per game) and Julius Thomas, Broncos (15.9 points per game)

K: Justin Tucker, Ravens (8.7 points per game)

D/ST: Kansas City Chiefs (12.1 points per game)

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