This is the first in a series of articles that will look at how personnel changes can increase or decrease the value of players.
I recently came across an article online that stated that you can quit searching for the next fantasy sleeper at your draft because since everyone does it, there are basically no sleepers available anymore.
I beg to differ with this opinion, not in the fact that the true fantasy sleeper no longer exists, but that the research necessary to locate sleepers has changed. I am almost begrudgingly writing this article since I know that some of my fellow fantasy competitors read my work and this will provide insight into where I look to find value in the upcoming fantasy football draft, but this is the type of information that separates the good teams from the playoff teams come December.
It is usually pretty apparent on draft day which players are being selected to come in and hopefully make a meaningful offensive contribution to their team. Just this year five of the top ten selections were offensive playmakers and four are expected to start on their teams first regular season game.
- Jameis Winston QB – Tampa Bay Buccaneers
- Marcus Mariota QB – Tennessee Titans
- Amari Cooper WR – Oakland Raiders
- Kevin White WR – Chicago Bears
- Todd Gurley RB – St. Louis Rams
Do not get me wrong, I don’t expect any of these players to come in and make a major fantasy impact in their first season. The question you should be asking is how these players improve the players around them? You can also use this type of rationalization when it comes to free agent additions as well as defections that can have positive effects on player statistics.
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers went 2-14 last year earning (and I use that term loosely) themselves the right to draft Winston first overall. A closer look at their schedule will show that they lost 8 of those 14 games by less than a touchdown which means this was a competitive team both offensively and defensively in 2014. The Bucs fielded two starting quarterbacks last season with a combined Passer Rating (QBR) of 75.2 and Josh McCown who started the majority of the games for the Bucs was the second worst QB in the NFL with a Total QBR of 32.7 which was only better than rookie Blake Bortles’ 25.2. Now I am not comparing NCAA football to the NFL as it would be like comparing apples to oranges, but Winston’s Passer Rating at Florida State last season was 145.5. There has never been a question that Winston lacks the tools to be a successful NFL quarterback. The biggest concern has always been his off-field issues.
How does this translate for the Buccaneers when it comes to the upcoming fantasy football season? Winston is entering a situation where they will design the offense to take advantage of his abilities. New offensive coordinator Dirk Koetter is designing a system that will not ask Winston to contribute too much too early in the season. If he can get the ball to his wide receivers and running backs it will already be an improvement over last year so I expect better stats from the following Tampa Bay players just by upgrading a key position:
- Mike Evans WR – scored 12 TD last season as a rookie with McCown and Glennon under center. With Jackson on the other side teams will not be able to double cover Evans as much as they would like. Expect a huge season.
- Vincent Jackson WR – entering his 11th NFL season, Jackson is still a valuable WR3 with 70 receptions but don’t expect too many touchdowns with Evans being the dominant red zone target.
- Doug Martin RB – Martin had a huge rookie season in 2012 with 1,454 yards, but has battled injuries the past two seasons. The Bucs declined the team option for the 5th year of Martin’s contract so he is playing for a contract this season which seems to be quite the incentive nowadays for players. Expect better production from Martin both rushing and receiving where I expect he will be a check down option for Winston and will see more passes out of the backfield.
Tampa Bay deep draft selections (these are the guys you want to take late and stash on your bench for depth an trade options)
- Austin Seferian-Jenkins TE – he only caught 21 passes last year and battled a back injury, but Winston’s ability to throw the ball down the field to Jackson and Evans should free up routes underneath for this second year Tight End
- Charles Sims RB (given Martin’s inability to remain healthy, plus he plays on passing downs)
I expect the addition of Winston could dramatically have a positive effect on the success of the Buccaneers on the field this season, and given the fact they play in a terrible division I would not rule out the fact that they could challenge in the abysmal NFC South.
In part two we will examine the impact that Mariota will have on the Titans and what players may see their value affected by his arrival.
The Breakdown: Using Daily Fantasy Sports as a Betting Tool
Marco D’Angelo and Bryan Leonard from WagerTalk.com discuss daily fantasy sports and how it can be used as a betting tool for handicappers.