It is time to focus on fantasy football!
The basketball and hockey seasons are over, folks, and baseball cannot take up every minute of every day for you. So whenever you have some spare minutes when you do not have to talk to your spouse, mow the lawn or do your job, it is time to start working on your fantasy football cheat sheets for the upcoming season.
Some NFL players’ stock fell faster than Paula Deen’s between the start of the 2012 season and now, but that might not be a bad thing for fantasy owners. If you are a savvy general manager, you might be able to get one of these players in the later rounds of your draft, or for a cheaper price at your auction, and reap huge rewards.
So here are three players who should be steals in fantasy drafts this year:
Maurice Jones-Drew, Jacksonville Jaguars (RB)
Fantasy owners have short memories. Maybe it is because they have lost a lot of brain cells thanks to drinking away their sorrows over Philip Rivers’ interceptions or Michael Vick’s injuries. Whatever the case, fantasy owners are definitely a what-have-you-done-for-me-lately bunch.
Many of these owners probably forgot how Jones-Drew won the rushing title in 2011 and are only focusing on his abbreviated 2012 campaign and the major foot injury that brought it to an abrupt halt.
Jones-Drew will probably not be one of the first 10 running backs drafted in your league, but he could very well end up scoring enough fantasy points to be among the ten best fantasy running backs at the season’s end.
Jones-Drew’s offensive line should be much improved with No. 2 pick Luke Joeckel now signed. If this offensive tackle is everything he is being hyped up to be, there should always be room for MJD to run on Joeckel’s side of the field.
Jacksonville did not bring in any major competition for Jones-Drew this offseason. Although both converted running back Denard Robinson and free agent scatback Justin Forsett could take away some carries as change-of-pace guys, Jones-Drew will still get the majority of the touches.
One injury-riddled year should not make you drop Jones-Drew down on your draft list near the likes of Shonn Greene and Rashard Mendenhall. It would not shock me if he racked up 1,600 combined yards for the fourth time in his career in 2013.
Anquan Boldin, San Francisco 49ers (WR)
You might assume Boldin is now too old to be a fantasy factor, and you might also believe he would have been better off taking a pay cut and staying with the Baltimore Ravens, where a more polished passer like Joe Flacco could have hooked him up with another 800-900 yards and a half-dozen touchdowns.
But, while the San Francisco 49ers might still be a run-first team this year, they will be more apt to pass with Colin Kaepernick as the quarterback for the full season. And with top target Michael Crabtree probably out of the year with a torn Achilles that he suffered during the offseason, Boldin will be the 49ers’ No. 1 receiver unless second-year man A.J. Jenkins looks 1,000,000 times better than he did during his rookie campaign.
Asking Boldin to have his first 1,000-yard year since 2009 is not asking too much. Only tight end Vernon Davis will get half as many looks as Boldin will in the 49ers’ passing attack. And we all saw last season how Kaepernick can improve a receiver’s fantasy value when Crabtree went from a disappointing underachiever to a guy with 1,105 yards and nine touchdowns.
Have no fear taking Boldin in the middle-to-later rounds of your fantasy draft. 1,000 yards and seven scores should be what he gets if he stays healthy, and at worst he should get you 850 yards and five TDs. Father Time has not tackled him yet.
Michael Floyd, Arizona Cardinals (WR)
2012 was a special year for rookie quarterbacks and running backs, but not for many rookie receivers. Floyd was one of the first-year pass catchers who had more growing pains than good games.
If fantasy owners banked on Floyd turning in the same kind of rookie season Cincinnati’s A.J. Green and Atlanta’s Julio Jones did in 2011, they were more wrong than the pundits who tabbed Evan Royster as Washington’s starting tailback heading into last year.
Floyd finished his rookie season with 45 receptions for 562 yards and two touchdowns, and it could have been a lot worse if not for an eight-catch, 166-yard game he shockingly had in Week 17. He had two receptions or fewer in nine games and had less fantasy value than most kickers.
Luckily, Floyd will not have to suffer through another season of having to catch passes from Kevin Kolb, John Skelton and the other erratic, below-average quarterbacks Arizona trotted out behind center last season. Arizona’s poor quarterback play definitely was one of the main reasons why Floyd faltered.
While Carson Palmer will not make Cardinals fans or fantasy owners think he is a Kurt Warner clone, he can throw a decent pass when he is well-protected. That will help Floyd exponentially. And having Larry Fitzgerald running routes on the opposite side of the field and forcing defenses to double-team him will also make Floyd’s second season much more enjoyable.
Now that he has a year of experience under his belt and a halfway-solid quarterback throwing to him, look for Floyd to show why scouts liked him when he came out of Notre Dame. He has great size and sure hands and can make plays in the red zone, so it would not surprise me if he broke out and had 900 yards and six touchdowns in 2013, and maybe more!
It is time to focus on fantasy football!