Mining For Fantasy Football Gold

Fantasy football is no place for secrets.

The business of make-believe football teams has exploded in the last 10 years, and with it has information. Sleepers? There are no sleepers anymore. If there’s a player you really want – and I mean REALLY WANT – there are probably at least three or four other owners who know all about him.

I’ve put together an annual fantasy football review the last few years on this blog. Typically, I look at my teams – I’m in three leagues this year – and use the rosters to determine who I must like more than everyone else.

But I feel like there hasn’t been a lot of doubling up among the teams this year. Again, there are no secrets. Often times, there are players you want to draft who you think represent great value, but you just can’t get to them.

But despite that, the practice of the annual blog post continues.

So … here are the players I have on multiple teams:

Spencer Ware, RB, Chiefs (all three teams)

The former Seattle Seahawks sixth-round pick has emerged in Kansas City. Last season, in his first year getting regular carries, he averaged 5.6 yards per carry and scored six touchdowns on just 72 carries.

And now, with reports that Jamaal Charles isn’t ready for Week 1, Ware appears to be the lead back in a great opening matchup against San Diego.

Kansas City Chiefs running back Spencer Ware. USA Today photo
Kansas City Chiefs running back Spencer Ware. USA Today photo

And even when Charles returns after undergoing ACL surgery, Ware almost certainly will be the goal-line back. Among runners with at least 10 carries inside the red zone, Ware scored at a higher rate (50 percent) than any runner in the league last year.

I picked him up as a post-draft free agent in the league I run, which drafted a couple weeks ago before Ware’s role was clear. In the two leagues I just drafted this weekend, I got him with an 11th-round pick and nabbed him in an auction for $4. Not bad for a likely Week 1 starting running back.

Robert Griffin III, QB, Browns (two teams)

Admittedly, I’m not exactly all-in on RGIII. My thoughts on him: If you’re looking for a late-round flier at quarterback, why not take a guy who is only 26 years old and at one time was a top-tier fantasy producer? I guess I just felt like I’d rather stash Griffin than an unproven rookie like Dak Prescott or veterans who have never shown Griffin’s ceiling.

I have RGIII behind Carson Palmer in one league and Drew Brees in the other. So ideally I won’t start him more than once all year.

Christine Michael, RB, Seahawks (two teams)

Michael has always been considered to be uber-talented. But he’s never been able to put it together on the field. With starter Thomas Rawls’ progress slowed following offseason surgery, Michael has taken advantage of his opportunity to run with the first-team offense in the preseason. In four warmup games, he rushed for 157 yards on 26 carries, grinding out “tough yards” and showing “big-play ability,” according to Rotoworld.

Rawls is expected to be ready for Week 1 even though he was limited in preseason games. I had Rawls as a keeper in one league, so drafting Michael was a must. He’s a nice speculative option late in drafts in case Rawls isn’t 100 percent or has a setback.

DeVante Parker, WR, Dolphins (two teams)

The No. 14 overall pick in the draft last year was disappointing as a rookie. He struggled to find his way onto the field, managing just 26 catches for 494 yards and three touchdowns.

I’m hoping that his second year goes a lot smoother than his first. However, it’s not off to a good start, as Parker recently has missed time with a hamstring injury. His status for Week 1 is in doubt. I’m having a little bit of regret with my Parker shares.

Michael Thomas, WR, Saints (two teams)

For receivers not named Odell Beckham Jr., the rookie year can be challenging. Again, though, I was fishing pretty late in drafts when I chose Thomas, whose highlight reel at Ohio State is fun to watch.

I think there’s an opportunity for Thomas in New Orleans. The Saints have one of the league’s best quarterbacks, yet the players who stand in Thomas’ path to playing time alongside Brandin Cooks don’t seem like insurmountable road blocks.

Other players whose draft value I like:

Latavius Murray, RB, Raiders – There weren’t many 1,000-yard backs last year. I’ve seen Murray go after Carlos Hyde, Jeremy Hill and Matt Forte in drafts, but I don’t think he should.

DeAngelo Williams, RB, Steelers – Williams was terrific last year in a first-rate offense. He’ll start the first three games this year with Le’Veon Bell suspended, and Bell hasn’t exactly been a picture of health in his career.

Allen Robinson, WR, Jaguars – Robinson is already going in the early second round of drafts. I just want to reiterate that his 2015 season was no fluke. I would take him ahead of A.J. Green and Brandon Marshall for sure, even though I have seen him go after these receivers. I think he’ll be a top-10 pick in 2017.

Delanie Walker, TE, Titans – He’s a steady and dependable option at a position that’s lacking in those type of players. Rob Gronkowski and Jordan Reed were awesome last year, but both come with HUGE injury red flags and are coming off the board much higher than Walker. Walker’s only red flag is that he’s 33, but he’s in what should be an improved offense with DeMarco Murray and Derrick Henry. And he has combined for almost 2,000 yards in the last two seasons.

Deep, DEEP sleepers

Paul Perkins, RB, Giants – Rookie won’t have much of a role to open season. But Rashad Jennings and Shane Vereen aren’t safe bets to make it through the season unscathed.

Terrance West, RB, Ravens – Looks like the former FCS star is in line to start in Baltimore unless the Ravens re-sign the recently cut Justin Forsett. His NFL career has been anything but impressive, but as late as he’s going in drafts, you’re probably happy to find anyone who is getting carries.

Tajae Sharpe, WR, Titans – The rookie has moved quickly up the depth chart, now finding himself listed among the starters. Put up monster stats at UMass.

Terrelle Pryor, WR, Browns – It wasn’t that long ago that Pryor was in this annual blog post as a quarterback. Hey, he’s really looked good this preseason. We’ll see if it means anything.

Jesse James, TE, Steelers – With Heath Miller retired and Ladarius Green landing on the PUP list, this virtually unknown tight end appears to have a starting job in a pretty good fantasy offense. Might not lead to anything. But if you’re digging deep at the tight end position, you could do worse.