If you use brutal force, and pressure me to pick just one, my new answer is pretty lame.
It doesn’t matter.
Why? Because they’re all worthy picks. And equally important, they all carry a little risk. As last year’s rushing leader, and the captain of Chip Kelly’s offense, Shady is destined to be a top rushing producer, and maybe even the overall leader. But oh, Darren Sproles and that pesky turf toe are considerations for you first pickers.
And Adrian Peterson. Easy to make an argument for this consistent fantasy producer – double-digit touchdowns in every season, and compared to other running backs, he’s among the fantasy point leaders in every single season. But oh, Adrian, why do you pause for the fantasy playoffs? Missing two critical junctures in two consecutive years caused uproar in the fantasy community. By the way, stop calling him A.P. It’s A.D., fools.
And, Jamaal Charles. First off, Jamaal, I love you unconditionally. Even though it hurts when you score for another team. For those who need the data, I have just one stat to satisfy your curiosity: 5.6 yards per carry. That stat places Jamaal among the top rushers EVER. His 19 touchdowns in 2013 were nice too. But it’s hard to ignore that he lost his offensive line. And his poor foot. Even I don’t move my own boxes.
See what I mean? While a fun debate, stop. Let’s not argue. Doesn’t matter because they are all smart picks. But here’s what does matter: sleeper picks. These are the guys who can make you the smartest guy (or girl) in the room. For real. Take a look:
Golden Tate, WR, Detroit Lions – The move to Detroit is big for Tate. His numbers last year weren’t bad (898 yards, five TDs), but rushing rules in Seattle. Now as a member of the Lions’ passing attack, Tate will take advantage as the deep threat, along side Calvin Johnson. I’m projecting 1,200 yards and seven TDs. He’s currently being drafted in the eighth round.
Carlos Hyde, RB, San Francisco 49ers – There’s a reason San Francisco took a running back in the second round. At age 31, Frank Gore has recorded a lot of miles (and not highway miles) as the 49ers’ featured back. Of course, we don’t know when Hyde is expected to be inaugurated into a lead role, but we do know he’s expected to get some goal-line action in the meantime. Really like this guy’s potential, and worth a bench spot while we wait. Take him in the 10th round.
Rueben Randle, WR, New York Giants – Besides Victor Cruz, who else is there? Last year, he reeled in 41 receptions for 611 yards and six TDs. His numbers could have been better without all the mental mishaps. The Giants have installed a new, less complicated offense, which should help. And again, who else is there?
Zach Ertz, TE, Philadelphia Eagles –You may not remember him, and that’s because Brent Celek was the lead TE. Things have changed and Ertz will be more receiver-ish. So far in three pre-season games, Ertz has eight receptions for 110 yards and a touchdown. Don’t overpay for tight ends. No need. Ertz is a value pick in the 12th round. Get him and pat yourself on the back.
Matt Ryan, QB, Atlanta Falcons – Yikes, what a bad year. Not sure what hurt the most – Julio Jones’ season-ending foot injury, Ryan’s 17 interceptions, or his 44 quarterback sacks. Still, he finished the season as the No. 14 ranked fantasy quarterback. Not sure how he did that without an O-line. Some fantasy owners will shy away after looking at his INTs. Don’t judge. He had good reasons.
Mo’ne Davis – Pretty sure she can throw a football too.
Erin Skelley joins Texans Radio every week on SportsRadio 610. Follow her on Twitter @erinskelley. She’ll babble fantasy to anyone who will listen.