Fantasy Football Edge: Legitimate Breakout Players
By Moe Koltun, Matt Cott and Matthew Schwimmer of RotoAnalysis.com
Oftentimes, people like to focus on the negatives in something rather than the positives. Sure, this week we could have written a column lambasting week one disappoints (I’m looking at you: Chris Johnson, Larry Fitzgerald, Michael Turner, Cam Newton and Trent Richardson), but what would be the point in that? One week is simply too little time to give up on preseason studs, and it would only frustrate their owners further. Instead, we’re going to give focus on the positives in week one, going through six previously unheralded names whose hot starts we find at least semi-legitimate, and who could make big differences to your fantasy teams.
Stephen Hill, WR, Jets
Hill’s hot start should have fantasy owners believing in the rookie wideout as a “legit” top 30-35 fantasy option. The only true flaw in Hill this season will be his quarterback play, but through week 1, Mark Sanchez has performed well. Many rookies struggle with blocking and it interferes with their ability to garner playing time, but since Hill is out of Georgia Tech, a triple option team, his blocking ability is far above the level of a traditional rookie. Although considered raw out of college, the big-play receiver has proven to be anything but that with a two-touchdown game to open up the season. The Jets have struggled to find a consistent deep threat and redzone target, and I would look for Hill to fill that void and be the clear #1 option on the team for fantasy. For more thoughts on Hill and other adds for week 1, check out the weekly RotoAnalysis pickups & drops article.
Alfred Morris, RB, Redskins
Yeah, it’s that time of year again where everyone believes in Mike Shannahan and one of his running backs. This season, I truly think the best option on this team is going to be Alfred Morris. Throughout the preseason and week 1, Morris has gotten every look as if he is the clear #1 option. Although Roy Helu is the more explosive player, he seems to be almost exclusively a pass-catcher out of the backfield. That leaves Royster and Morris to do most of the ball carrying. With Royster banged up and Shannahan liking Morris enough to draft him this year, I think the job is Morris’s to loose. With running back being as shallow as it is, don’t hesitate to rate Morris as a top 20 option week in and week out and be confident that he will be the goal line back at the very least.
Kevin Smith, RB, Lions
With Jahvid Best out of the picture and Mikel Leshoure suspended, Smith put up an outstanding week 1 with over 20 fantasy points. He averaged 4.8 yards per carry, looked very smooth running the ball, and was active in the receiving game. While Leshoure may take over goal line duties when he comes back from suspension in week 3, I think Smith has enough raw talent to remain a top-20 play the rest of the way. Even though the Lions are a very modern offense that will pass the ball as much as two thirds of the time some games, Smith is a great receiver and is a solid play in any PPR or standard league.
Lance Moore, WR, Saints
Moore is a player who I believe was severely underrated coming into drafts this season. The team’s loss of Robert Meachem has made him the Saints’ clear #2 wide receiver. Even with Darren Sproles and Jimmy Graham probably rankings ahead of him in Drew Brees’ head, there are plenty of targets to go around on this offense. In fact, Moore has led the Saints in touchdown receptions each of the past 2 seasons. He had over 5 catches in just 2 games last season, but his 6 catch, 120 yard performance points to an increased role in the offense this season. Target him in the 25-30 range at WR as a high-risk, high-reward player.
Robert Griffin III, QB, Redskins
RG3 had as much to prove as any player in the NFL in his rookie debut after the Redskins traded 3 first round picks, two pairs of Dan Snyder’s signature glasses, and the head off of the Lincoln Memorial statue for the young QB out of Baylor in this year’s draft. Well, not only did RG3 prove he was worth the pick by leading the Redskins to an upset victory over the Saints, he actually exceeded expectations and had one of the best rookie debuts I can remember. Going forward, there is no reason Robert Griffin the Third shouldn’t be a top 10 QB every week, and with a stable offensive line and solid weapons around him, I expect RG3 to find sustained success all season long.
Kevin Ogletree, WR, Cowboys
If I were to tell you Kevin Ogletree was going to outscore Calvin Johnson and Roddy White combined in week 1 in the preseason, you would have knocked me out and sent me off to a place eerily reminiscent of Shutter Island. Look, I’m not saying he’s going to replicate his week 1 stats week-in and week-out, but we saw Laurent Robinson have legitimate success in the number 3 role for the Cowboys last year, finishing as a top 15 fantasy wide out despite barely seeing the field in the first two games of the year. Jason Witten looks flat-out done, and Robinson should fit nicely into this offense as the third option it needs. Look for Ogletree to be a top 25-30 option from here on out, and to possibly be a top 20 guy going forward if he looks anything like he did in week 1 this week.
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.