By Moe Koltun, Matt Cott and Matthew Schwimmer of RotoAnalysis.com
The depth of players at running back and receiver make it easy to break out a few sleepers and busts every year (running back sleepers, wide receiver sleepers) but quarterback and tight end are a different story. It is significantly more difficult to rise up the ranks at QB and TE, not only because standard fantasy rosters start fewer of them, but also because they’re just more stable positions. Here are a couple of guys at each position that we think you should target or stay away from.
Sleeper: Ryan Fitzpatrick, QB, Bills
Ryan Fitzpatrick got off to a hot start last year when he served as a top 10 fantasy QB for the first 9 weeks of the year but struggled to be a top 20 QB from then on. This offseason, it was announced that Fitzpatrick actually had some broken ribs in the second half. If you believe the story, during his healthy games, Fitzpatrick averaged 15 fantasy points per game and completed over 65% of his passes. Prorated over an entire season, Fitzpatrick would have been the 10th highest scoring QB last year, but this year is being taken 22nd amongst signal callers. Add in the fact that the Bills didn’t begin to use C.J. Spiller’s receiving skills until the second half and Fitzpatrick could be in for a monster season and be an even bigger draft bargain.
Bust: Cam Newton, QB, Panthers
While Cam Newton probably won’t completely flop in his sophomore campaign, his average draft position in the mid-second round (16.3) is way too high. Newton’s 14 rushing touchdowns last year was an unrepeatable marker to begin with, and then the Panthers went out and signed notorious touchdown vulture Mike Tolbert in the offseason. I’d project Cam for less than 8 rushing TD’s this season. Also, Newton’s second half fantasy stats were almost as good as his first half, but his real-life passing stats became way worse in the second half. In the first half, Newton had three games over 300 passing yards and only one game under 200, whereas in his last 8 games Newton never managed 300 passing yards and went under 200 three times. We believe Newton is going to suffer from a sophomore slump in 2012, and that goes double for his fantasy performance.
Sleeper: Fred Davis, TE, Redskins
The former 2nd round pick broke through last year in a terrible offense. With RG3 at the helm, he should see more targets as well as much higher quality targets and continue to display the skills that made him go for 59 catches and 796 yards (both top 5 among tight ends at the time he was injured) in just 12 games. How much young QBs, and especially dual threat guys, throw to tight ends has been well documented (see: Alge Crumpler). The one qualm with Davis’s 2011 season was his lack of touchdowns. Even though he had just 3 of his 59 catches in the end zone he had 9 on just 69 catches in his previous two seasons. This is a great situation for an underrated performer in 2011 to continue to improve.
Bust: Jermichael Finley, TE, Packers
Finley has a lot of name recognition, and sure, it’s great to be Aaron Rodgers’ tight end, but looking at his numbers alone he is vastly overrated. Jordy Nelson and Greg Jennings are the clear top 2 options of the offense, which left Finley with only 55 catches and the least targets per game of any top 10 tight end. He had 4 catches or more in just 6 of 16 games last season. While he has the upside for huge weeks, Finley’s swings make him a back-end top 10 option for us.
Agree? Disagree? Questions? Tweet @RotoAnalysis and be sure to follow Moe @MoeProblems and Matt @KidCotti21. Check out their work on RotoAnalysis.com, as well as The RotoAnalysis Fantasy Sports Podcast.