With the high school football season kicking off this week, it means the pros won’t be far behind and that means one thing — fantasy football.
I’ll admit I’m kind of a fantasy football junkie. I may not be able to haul the rock in real life, but in cyberspace I’m not too shabby. I did win one of my leagues for the third time this past year and that’s a league record.
One quick piece of advice I’d like to offer as everyone gets ready for their prospective draft days is who I see as overrated and underrated at quarterback, running back and wide receiver for the upcoming season — the three most coveted positions of the draft.
We know who the studs are: Peyton Manning, Adrian Peterson and Calvin Johnson. If you get one of them I applaud you, but what about as the draft gets deeper? What’s the best buy in the later rounds?
I’ll start at running back because it is definitely a premium position without much elite depth these days.
For overrated on preseason rankings I have to go with Denver’s Montee Ball. Ball didn’t have a start as a rookie, only surpassed the century mark once and scored just four TDs, two of those in one game. Knowshon Moreno is gone to Miami now, but Yahoo has Ball ranked as the eighth-best back, a little high for me. I wasn’t very impressed last year. I’d rather see how ’14 plays out for him before crowning him a fantasy go-to back.
On the other hand, another 2013 rookie, Zac Stacy of the Rams, was a huge hit and should be rewarded in ’14. Stacy is getting some love, but not enough in my opinion. This is a guy you can draft a little later and hopefully get some good value. He narrowly missed 1,000 yards last year in 14 games, only 12 starts. The Rams are bulking up at the offensive line to ride this horse, too. Problem is he won’t be such a sleeper drafting in the St. Louis area, but if you get him be happy.
At quarterback Cam Newton is my overrated pick. Old reliable Steve Smith is gone to Baltimore and it’s now time to lean on 6-foot-5, 240-pound rookie Kelvin Benjamin. Newton’s running stats have tapered off, too. I don’t look at him as a top 10 QB, which is where he is ranked mostly.
I might be making a stretch with my underrated signal caller, but Robert Griffin III is coming off of a lingering injury and a forgettable season. He is healthy now, has a new coach and a new receiver in DeSean Jackson.
RGIII is getting love in preseason lists, but I think some people could be hesitant to take him due to the ACL injury. In my opinion, his arm strength coupled with his running abilities mean he can emerge as a fantasy stud like he was trending to be in his rookie campaign.
As for wide receiver, Marques Colston is my choice for overrated. He looks like a sexy pick because he’s the No. 1 receiver for Drew Brees on the depth chart. The problem is, everybody knows tight end Jimmy Graham is the real No. 1 threat and as Colston enters the season at 31, injuries have slowed him down.
Golden Tate looks to be underrated to me. Coming to Detroit, Tate might be a perfect counterpart for Johnson. He is the biggest deep threat in all of football and when it comes to throwing a lot, Matthew Stafford is more of a threat than Russell Wilson. As teams key on Johnson, like they should, look for Tate to reap the benefits in mismatches on coverage. He’s not a No. 1, but you should be able to get him in later rounds and get big production.
There you have it, some fantasy tidbits. Mull those over while you’re watching the opening night of prep football next Friday. Around the River Bend, Alton plays host to Pekin at 7 p.m., Civic Memorial welcomes Marquette Catholic at 7 p.m., East Alton-Wood River takes on Columbia at 7 p.m. at home and Roxana hits the road at Carlinville at 7 p.m. Bring on some football.