Some people dream of being Tom Brady, LeSean McCoy or Larry Fitzgerald. But others, most notably fantasy football owners, dream of being one of the smartest NFL general managers around, like Ozzie Newsome, Ted Thompson or Jerry Reese.
So what would make you look like the most intelligent GM in your fantasy league? Drafting a player a round or two higher than anyone projected he would go and then watching that guy turn in a Pro Bowl season that wins you a fantasy title would do the trick. Or taking a chance on a player in the late rounds and having him become a productive fantasy starter who is the unsung hero of your squad is another way.
You want the owners in your league talking about the draft choices you made for years to come? Here are six picks that will make you a Draft Day legend in your fantasy league:
Robert Griffin III, Washington Redskins (QB)
If you want to become a fantasy draft legend, do not do what the Indianapolis Colts did. Take RG3 ahead of Andrew Luck in your fantasy draft.
Griffin has the extra fantasy-related ability to rack up acres of rushing yards thanks to his supreme scrambling ability and his nose for the end zone when he has the ball in his mitts. And he has pinpoint accuracy with his passes, whether he is rolling out or inside the pocket.
With Washington finally upgrading its receiver corps after several seasons of Santana Moss and not much else, Griffin will have plenty of talented targets to make his rookie season 1,000,000 times better than Heath Shuler’s.
If you have reservations about selecting Griffin ahead of Luck, just think about how dumb you felt last year when you passed over Cam Newton, and that should solidify your position on RG3.
David Wilson, New York Giants (RB)
Ahmad Bradshaw is neck and neck with San Diego’s Antonio Gates for the title of fantasy superstar with the most yearly foot problems. There will definitely be one moment during the 2012 season where Bradshaw needs more metal inserted into his feet.
Wilson might not be the starter and could suffer through some rookie growing pains, but by midseason he will be a fantasy force when he starts splitting time with Bradshaw and possibly becomes the top tailback for a few games in Bradshaw’s absence.
Jared Cook, Tennessee Titans (TE)
Are you looking for the Jimmy Graham or Rob Gronkowski of 2012? Look no further than Cook, who ended the 2011 campaign on the highest note possible with 21 receptions for 335 yards in Tennessee’s last three games.
While other owners in your league spend high-round draft choices on Graham and Gronkowski, wait a couple rounds and take Cook and enjoy a 900-yard year. And if Jake Locker wins the QB contest in Tennessee, maybe 1,000 yards.
Josh Freeman, Tampa Bay Buccaneers (QB)
Freeman turned a corner in 2010, then took a step back in 2011. His dreadful 16-to-22 TD-to-INT ratio last year will turn off fantasy owners quicker than 400-pound people in thongs.
But the arrivals of veteran pass snaggers Vincent Jackson and Dallas Clark and another year of experience under Freeman’s belt should help the young QB bounce back in a big way. He will certainly be a top-15 fantasy QB and has the potential to sneak into the top 10.
Jeremy Maclin, Philadelphia Eagles (WR)
Some fantasy owners will knock Maclin down several pegs on their cheat sheets after his inconsistent, underwhelming 2011 season. Some may forget about him entirely. These are bigger mistakes than remaking Total Recall.
Maclin will be a 1,000-yard, 12-TD receiver this year now that he does not have a mysterious preseason illness to deal with. Look for him to fix his pass-dropping problem and reform one of the most dangerous one-two WR punches in fantasy football with DeSean Jackson
Dwayne Harris, Dallas Cowboys (WR)
Talk about a deep sleeper! You have to stick your shovel about 100 feet underground before you would find Harris, but if you draft him in the last or second-to-last round, he might turn into a fantasy treasure.
Harris is currently battling it out for the No. 3 WR spot in Dallas’ offense, which is a prime position. Just look at what Laurent Robinson did with it last season. Robinson turned his career around and racked up 858 yards and 11 touchdowns being the third WR banana.
Miles Austin and Dez Bryant are perpetually injured. Austin has wasted no time during training camp. He already has another hamstring problem that will cost him some preseason time.
If Harris can win the third receiver job during training camp, he will get plenty of playing time, have Tony Romo throwing to him in a wide-open offense and have defensive backs so concerned about Jason Witten and whoever is healthy that he should be open a lot. Keep close watch on Dallas’ preseason to see if Harris eventually emerges victorious.