Patrick Daugherty: Who did you consistently draft that you believe is going to put your team over the top?
For me, it’s Andre Ellington. It’s required a lot of reaching — something I not necessarily proud of — but I think he’s far and away the RB2/3 most likely to make the jump to the RB1 ranks. Everyone knows one of the easiest paths to fantasy success is identifying the next big thing at running back, and it’s especially critical in a year where there’s little clarity outside the top five. Am I worried about Ellington’s injury risk? Of course. Am I worried about his talent or role? Absolutely not.
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Evan Silva: I was all over Roddy White. He usually fell to the fourth round, though I was willing to take him in the late third to make sure I get him. I love him in PPR and think he could push for the NFL lead in receptions.
I like Torrey Smith as well. I love having White and Torrey as my WR2 and WR3, respectively, and don't mind if they're my WR1 and WR2, either. Smith is essentially this year's Pierre Garcon in the high-volume 'X' role in the Kubiak/Shanahan offense. Smith is going to catch 80-plus passes this season.
I also think people are still sleeping on Joique Bell, who is a strong RB2 with every-down tools. And Heath Miller is an ideal TE2 who I think has a chance to score like a relatively top-flight TE1. People forget he was the No. 4 overall fantasy tight end in Todd Haley's offense just two years ago. I don't at all understand why his ADP is in the 13th round, behind the likes of Martellus Bennett, Eric Ebron, Antonio Gates and Charles Clay.
Adam Levitan: Totally agree with Evan on Smith. I got him in the fifth round of every draft. Contract year, route tree expanding, Kubiak's X — lock it up.
I'm also all in on Zach Ertz. I know there are some questions about how much volume he'll see, but that's why he was available in the ninth round consistently. I have more faith in Ertz winning 1-on-1 matchups than Darren Sproles, Riley Cooper, Jordan Matthews and even Jeremy Maclin — especially in the red zone.
There are very obvious reasons to like Tate. He finished 35th in wide receiver points per game last season in Seattle, and has traded the Seahawks’ restrictive pass game in for the Lions' open attack. He should at the very least improve on his 98 targets from last season, and his ability in the open field (64 missed tackles in 184 career receptions according to Pro Football Focus) should allow him to make big plays.
Colston was one of the best values on the board all draft season. I have written way too many words about him already, so I will just say this. Marques Colston will finish in the top 15 this season. I have literally zero idea why he is lasting until the end of the sixth round.
Daugherty: Agree with Evan on Heath Miller. He's on basically all my teams. I've been going about it in a little different fashion, however. Miller's strength is plug-and-play consistency, but I'm all about upside, so I've been pairing him with guys I'm taking chances on, usually Ladarius Green or Travis Kelce. I think Miller works best in that scenario. I really don't think he should be drafted to be a starter, but instead as the guy to come and clean up the mess when your flier goes wrong.
Torrey fell into my lap in a lot of leagues, as well. This is a guy who's improved every year, and could easily reach 1,200 yards. He's probably never going to catch 100 balls, but 1,200 yards and 7-8 scores is everything you could possibly want from a WR2.
Also taken to stashing Stevan Ridley and Ahmad Bradshaw in the later rounds. Ridley, despite everything, still has high-end RB2 upside. We know Bradshaw will get hurt at some point, but he's going to start multiple games. That's a no-brainer for one of your final bench spots.
Nick Mensio: As others have mentioned above, I have a ton of Torrey Smith and Heath Miller stock. I aggressively aimed for Torrey Smith, taking him as early as the fourth round. I wasn’t necessarily trying to get Heath Miller much, but I've found myself ending up with him in a lot of drafts. The big four tight ends continue to come off boards earlier and earlier, and if I can't get a Kyle Rudolph or Zach Ertz in the 7-9 round range, I simply wait for Miller in the 12th or 13th. Could pay huge dividends.
Another player I've been targeting heavily is Fred Jackson. I'm one of the biggest C.J. Spiller fans out there, but even I'm skeptical it'll ever happen in Buffalo. Jackson is the trusty veteran who doesn't do anything great, but can do everything right. He doesn't make mistakes, and the conservative coaching staff loves him. He handles all the red-zone and goal-line work and sees his fair share of action between the 20s. Jackson finished as fantasy's No. 11 RB last season. Getting him in the 7th-8th round range is easy. Sign me up for that every time.
Mike Clay: I own Tom Brady in a lot of leagues. It's amazing how many people have written him off after a slow start to 2013. That offense was really good when Gronkowski played, and he's on track to play Week 1. He's a steal after the seventh round. I seem to land Shane Vereen, James White and Lance Dunbar quite a bit. Vereen is a borderline RB1 in PPR regardless of Stevan Ridley's performance, but White is one Ridley doghouse trip away from a major promotion. I’ve enjoyed snagging him and Dunbar in the later rounds.
At wideout, I almost always ended up with Kendall Wright. They already started targeting him down field more often during the preseason. Cordarrelle Patterson was my favorite guy to target. I went for him in the fourth round of recent drafts. Playing every down, he's as close as you come to a "safe breakout". I like Donte Moncrief and Davante Adams as fliers, and they're free in a majority of leagues.
Levitan: I know it's just preseason Mike, but are you concerned with how James White looked? Rushed 29 times for 80 yards (2.75 YPC), PFF's No. 118 back out of 128 qualifiers.
I do think the flier price is fair and the spot is right. On paper at least, White is the direct backup to passing back Shane Vereen (11 games missed over the last two years) and error-repeating big back Stevan Ridley.
Clay: I'm definitely concerned about White's ineffectiveness, but the sample is clearly very low. We're talking about a young back in a Bill Belichick offense who spent his first preseason already rotating with the starters. I realize he projects into a role similar to Vereen's, but he was clearly handling Ridley's snaps at times with the first team. If Ridley goes down, preseason usage suggests White will play a lot. And with Ridley already on the doorstep of the doghouse, I think White is well worth a late round flier.
Daugherty: I mentioned this last week, but I'm just not sold on Dunbar as one of your final bench guys, unless it's in a pure handcuff role. I think everyone expecting Scott Linehan to deploy his Lions' backfield in Dallas is going to be very disappointed. DeMarco Murray is so much better suited for an every-down role than Reggie Bush, making Dunbar an unnecessary Joique Bell. I don't think people will ever start him unless Murray gets nicked up.
Clay: In studying preseason first-team usage, I picked up that Dallas called pass on 48 percent of Murray's reps, compared to 68 percent of Dunbar's. That could mean nothing, but I entered the preseason assuming Dunbar would chip into Murray's snaps, so I think it's relevant. And, if we look back at the last three complete games Dunbar played last year, we see that he racked up 18 carries and six targets. That may not seem like a lot, but it was a big uptick from what we saw earlier that season. I owned Murray in a lot of leagues last year and Dunbar's increased touches did concern me a bit. I still think Murray warrants consideration near the first-round turn, but Dunbar is a solid target in the later rounds.