Every year, we dream about the upside of a handful of players after drafting them. We imagine the best possible scenarios, listen to all the hype coming out of training camp, and seemingly wait for the fantasy championship trophies to inevitably fall into our laps. But every year, there will be disappointments- it’s the nature of the beast. However, this disappointment can create opportunity- many fantasy owners feel “burned” by particular players, and avoid drafting them or knock them off their boards completely. Here is a list of some of my favorite “post-hype” fantasy assets- guys who disappointed last year, but could very well be values in 2014.
2013 ADP and Fantasy Finish: QB7 at 5.09 (Finished QB10)
2014 ADP: QB10 at 7.03
Arguably the most hyped quarterback heading into 2013, Kaepernick had just finished taking the league by storm in the 2nd half of 2012 and postseason. His ADP soared to the 5th round as fantasy footballers marveled at his cannon arm and gazelle-like speed and rushing ability. However, his fantasy value was dealt a blow before 2013 even began- Michael Crabtree. The 49ers top target, tore his Achilles tendon, and the 49ers decided to focus even more on a run-heavy, Frank Gore lead attack. “Kaep” finished a respectable 10th out of quarterbacks, but passing for under 200 yards per game in today’s NFL won’t boost you to the fantasy elite.
But 2014 has the makings of what 2013 could have been. Crabtree is back and healthy, Vernon Davis is still stretching seams and Anquan Boldin still moving chains. Frank Gore is yet another year older and has finally started to show signs of slowing down, and signs are pointing to the 49ers handing the keys to their offense to their newly-extended franchise quarterback. Kaep can be had at a low-end QB1 cost with elite QB1 upside in 2014.
2013 ADP and Fantasy Finish: RB5 at 1.06 (Finished RB27)
2014 ADP: RB14 at 3.09
After a scintillating 2012 in which he averaged 6 yards per carry and caught 43 balls for 459 yards with 8 total touchdowns, many fantasy footballers (like myself) salivated over what Spiller would do with an expanded role in the offense- something that was promised at this time last summer. His explosive, ankle-breaking ability combined with a projected monster workload caused his ADP to work it’s way to the top of the first round.
Alas, Spiller fell woefully short of expectations as he played through an absolutely debilitating ankle injury while the new Bills coaching staff seemed to struggle to get Spiller into space- something former coach Chan Gailey excelled at. Fred Jackson, who never seems to quite go away, ended up quietly finishing as a fantasy RB1 while Spiller hobbled his way through the disappointment.
However, word out of Buffalo is that the Bills now want to put Spiller back in the role he excelled in two years ago- a 14-17 touch “space” running back who can take it to the house on any touch. He says he hasn’t felt this good since 2012, and besides for the addition of Bryce Brown, how much has his outlook really changed from 2013 to 2014? The main difference is that instead of having to spend a top-6 pick to acquire him, you can get him late in the 3rd round. I’m on board.
2013 ADP and Fantasy Finish: RB3 at 1.03 (Finished RB46)
2014 ADP: RB13 at 3.08
With an incredibly high ADP, I was avoiding Arian Foster at all costs- he was showing signs of breaking down while his efficiency has dipped every single year, especially his receiving statistics. He actually played pretty decently when he was on the field (4.5 yards per carry with 22 receptions in 8 games), but a herniated disk derailed whatever momentum he had going.
After missing the final 8 games of the season, Foster is now apparently completely healthy with a very well-defined role. Belichick descendent Bill O’Brien is now the coach in Houston, and he has publicly stated he plans to use Foster in a Kevin Faulk/Danny Woodhead-like manner– great news for his PPR prospects. Throw in their messy quarterback situation and a healthy Andre Johnson, and Arian is a good bet to be a value this year. With an ADP similar to Spiller, those starting WR-WR in rounds 1 and 2 could snag Arian, who has an RB2 price with RB1 possibilites.
2013 ADP and Fantasy Finish: WR10 at 3.05 (Finished WR43)
2014 ADP: WR28 at 6.01
An absolutely remarkable model of consistency and durability, White hadn’t dipped below 83 catches, 1,153 yards or 6 touchdowns since 2007 while playing in every single game of his career… until 2013. Drafted as a WR2 by most and even a WR1 by many, there was no reason to think 2013 would be any different- he’s not the sexiest pick, but you know what you’re gonna get, right?
Wrong. Visibly hobbled by lower-leg injuries, White didn’t top 4 catches or 45 yards in the first 12 games of the season- missing games (2) for the first time in his career while being obviously used as a decoy. But over the last 5 contests, looking healthy for the first time all season, White averaged over 8 catches and 100 yards per game while scoring twice.
It’s important to be wary of his age but his style of receiving is not based much on speed or explosion, thus he is less likely to experience a sharp decline. I have no idea how his ADP has dropped to the 6th round, but I see no reason as to why White should be considered anything less than a passable WR2. While superstud Julio Jones will be back, White is going to at least fill part of the void left by Tony Gonzalez’s retirement. At this point, you can get him as your WR3/4. Jump on it before his ADP begins to inevitably rise.
2013 ADP and Fantasy Finish: WR15 at 4.07 (Finished WR54)
2014 ADP: WR57 at 11.11
Talk about unfulfilled expectations- I fell for this one hook, line and sinker. Feeling confident enough in Amendola that they let the great Wes Welker walk, the former Ram came into New England with a big fantasy opportunity. With big fantasy opportunity, however, comes great fantasy expectation. But how could we not salivate? A more vertically explosive Wes Welker-type slot receiver, Tom Brady throwing him the ball, and question marks all around every single other pass catcher on the roster. When reports from Patriots training camp told tales of Brady and Amendola’s on-field connection, it all seemed perfect…maybe too perfect.
After fighting through a groin injury sustained during his Week One, 10-104-0 performance, Amendola reminded us that his injury history is ample. Missing 25% of the season while being somewhat invisible in some contests, Amendola saw 100+ yards and 6+ catches just twice after Week One while Julian Edelman caught seemingly every pass thrown by Tom Brady.
While last year’s 4th round ADP would be very prohibitive this year, I think Amendola can be an absolute steal in the 11th round. Similar to my points above for other players, what exactly has changed for Amendola and the Patriots? Sure, Edelman is back and they signed Brandon LaFell, but Amendola is still going to be the main slot man in a quick-hitting offense that may or may not have Rob Gronkowski. While Amendola is unlikely to fill 2013’s PPR WR1 expectations, I wouldn’t be surprised by a very strong WR3 performance with room for more if (admittedly, a big “if”) Amendola can stay healthy. But for an 11th round pick, there is nothing to lose.