Chris Wesseling

Football Daily Dose

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Late-round fliers

Tuesday, September 01, 2009


After filling out my starting lineup and drafting a few players for depth, I usually turn my attention to late-round fliers capable of helping my team if their situation breaks right. One of my cardinal beliefs at draft time is that insurance can found throughout the season on the waiver wire. Don't draft a Jamal Lewis or a Julius Jones simply because they top the early-September depth chart. Those players will only help you lose on a consistent basis. Instead, target a player with a high fantasy ceiling who could help you win if the depth chart changes.

Quarterbacks

Matt Leinart: Why draft a mediocre Jake Delhomme as your QB2 if an equally mediocre Shaun Hill or Kerry Collins is going to be available for free on the waiver wire? A better move is to stash Matt Leinart, who threw for 360 yards and three touchdowns in the second half Friday night. Kurt Warner is 38-years-old and still feeling the effects offseason hip surgery. If he misses time, a now-seasoned Leinart is an instant fantasy asset with Larry Fitzgerald, Anquan Boldin, and Steve Breaston as weapons. If it gets to the point where you need an emergency bye-week starter, just drop your least valuable roster-plugger and snag a Byron Leftwich off the waiver wire.

Matthew Stafford: Call it the Randy Moss effect. Quarterbacks such as Randall Cunningham, Jeff George, Daunte Culpepper, Tom Brady, and even Kerry Collins have seen their fantasy production skyrocket on the strength of the difference-making receiver. While Stafford has had an up-and-down preseason, he's averaged over 8.0 YPA and 70 percent completions in two of his three preseason games. He's already shown that he can move the offense up and down the field, and that rifle arm is going to benefit greatly from the Moss-like production of Calvin Johnson. With Daunte Culpepper's health status up in the air, Stafford could take the reins as soon as Week 1.

Michael Vick: Sure, he's a longshot. One component of the late-round flier is the odds of seeing significant playing time. But there's a more important component: what are his chances of making a fantasy impact if he does see the field? As late as mid-August last year, Kurt Warner was seen as a waste of a draft pick. His history and situation, however, made him the perfect late round flier. A rusty Vick may not have quite the upside of the 2008 Warner, but he's been a Top-3 fantasy finisher twice in his career. Considering Donovan McNabb's injury history, Vick is worth a dice roll in larger leagues.

Running Backs

James Davis: Davis is available in the late 12th round of most drafts with Jamal Lewis going four-to-five rounds earlier. Davis is averaging 7.8 YPA versus 2.6 for Lewis through three preseason games. Lewis isn't going to start for my fantasy team early in the season (and Michael Lombardi doesn't believe he'll even start for the Browns), so I'd be stuck with a steadily deflating roster handicap. While Lewis' value will continue to dwindle, Davis' will keep rising. In which case, why not draft Davis instead of Lewis?

Glen Coffee: With a league-leading 265 combined rushing/receiving yards through three weeks of preseason action, the physical third-rounder has emerged as a mandatory handcuff for all Frank Gore owners. If the Gore owner in my league falls asleep at the wheel, I'm grabbing Coffee as my fourth running back. He has the potential to put up borderline RB1/RB2 numbers in an offense that revolves around the starting tailback. If Gore goes down, Coffee is money. Isn't that a much better use of a roster spot than an Edgerrin James, Correll Buckhalter, or Sammy Morris?

Tashard Choice: Felix Jones is getting all of the hype, and not undeservedly, but Choice is now the forgotten man in the Cowboys backfield. Despite averaging a combined 122 yards against the murder's row of Giants, Steelers, Ravens, and Eagles last December, Choice is going undrafted in many leagues. With his performance record and concerns over Marion Barber's never-say-die running style exposing him to injuries, Choice is well worth the roster stash as a fourth runningback.

DeShawn Wynn: I'm throwing this one in there for deeper leagues. Ryan Grant is in a unique situation as the Packers starting running back. One of his backups – Brandon Jackson – is a much better receiver out of the backfield. Another backup, Wynn, is more skilled as a pass catcher, blocker, and short-yardage back. What has held Wynn back the past couple of seasons are commitment and an inability to stay on the field. By all accounts, he has the commitment part down this year. If he can stay healthy, the Packers will turn to him in the event of a Grant injury or extended slump.


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Chris Wesseling is a senior football editor and Dynasty league analyst for Rotoworld.com. The 2011 NFL season marks his fifth year with Rotoworld and his third year contributing to NBCSports.com. He can be found on Twitter @ChrisWesseling.
Email :Chris Wesseling



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