Weekly salary cap games are a great addition to the NFL season. For those of you who have never tried it, the rules are fairly simple. Every player is assigned a monetary amount based on personal statistics and national hype. The trick is to combine the best lineup of players to score the highest total of the entry pool. This game is legal in the U.S. because it is considered a game of skill.
Constructing a team is fairly simple using current events and PFF stats. I studied a free roll (free to play) last season and each of the highest scoring teams had elite players paired with lesser-known boom or bust players. It is important to note that most salary cap games score receptions as 0.5 (1/2PPR). Here are some players that could be a great value for salary cap games to start the season: (Note: we will not know specific values for day gaming sites until just before the season starts.)
Pittsburgh’s Rashard Mendenhall went down with an ACL injury in week 17, leaving a great opportunity for Redman. Injuries can be a great place to start for value picks in a lineup.
Redman is no slouch running the ball. He had an overall +10.7 PFF rushing rating last season, which ranked him at No. 10 among running backs with at least 25% of a team’s snaps. More importantly he had a respectable +8.7 PFF over his final six games, including the playoff game against Denver.
However, that is just the beginning for Redman. He posted a 59.8 elusive rating (tied for No. 6 among RBs with 25 percent of the team’s attempts) and 3.06 yards after initial contact (good for #7 among RBs). His career YPA is a healthy 4.5, and he posted a catch rate of 90.9 percent last season
With Mendenhall certain to take a backseat this season as he recovers, Redman is a great RB to pair with an elite player such as Arian Foster, LeSean McCoy, or Ray Rice, based on their respective matchup.
Week 17 was a tough week for important fantasy football running backs even though most owners had concluded their seasons. In addition to Mendenhall (and with more publicity), Adrian Peterson suffered the dreaded ACL/MCL injury. The news out of Peterson’s camp is that his rehab has gone extremely well and he should be back quickly. This will be the most followed injury heading into 2012.
If Peterson is limited in any fashion or starts the year on the reserve/PUP list, it will pave the way for Toby Gerhart. The big back had a 60.8 elusive rating and 2.97 yards after contact last season, good for fifth and 12th amongst running backs, respectively.
The most telling statistics come from weeks 12-14 when Peterson was hurt. Gerhart posted a +6.8 PFF grade over the 3 games and averaged 16.4 fantasy points per game (PPG) while taking 76.7% of the team’s snaps. He also averaged 4.7 targets per game for these 3 weeks. For the season he averaged 4.87 yards per carry. Gerhart is also a RB you can pair with Foster, McCoy, or Rice depending on the matchup.
There might not be a wide receiver flying under the radar lower than Floyd. Floyd had a +17.0 PFF receiving grade for the season, good for fifth among all receivers.
Floyd’s stats go much deeper, however. He had a QBR rating of 125.2 which ranked 11th. Floyd posted 0.230 fantasy points per snap — ranked ninth among wide receivers — while his average depth of target (aDOT) was a healthy 17.0 yards. Even his 2.55 yards per route run (YPRR) ranked him sixth at WR.
In his last six games, Floyd averaged 6.8 targets, 4.8 receptions, 93.7 yards, and 0.7 touchdowns. If he stays healthy (and that is a big if) it would translate to approximately 1,500 yards receiving and 11 touchdowns on the season. He is a receiver whose cost might not climb too high, and that is more than enough value to help in your salary cap lineup.
The Baltimore rookie showed some serious speed during the year, which helped him garner a whopping 19.6 aDOT. Forty percent of his passes were deep (20-plus yards), though he was only able to haul in 30.6% of them. Thirteen of his 36 deep targets were deemed catchable, however, and he caught 11 of them — five for touchdowns. Smith averaged 5.75 targets over the last 4 Ravens games, including the two playoff games.
Smith graded out at +3.0 PFF passing for the year. It may not seem like much, but a rookie pass catcher typically takes time to figure out route running. Smith is the ultimate boom/bust candidate, which is exactly what you need to post a high score. Having several medium players will make your score consistent, but the ceiling won’t be high enough to cash. In his rookie season, Smith had three games over 10 fantasy points, one over 20 fantasy points, and one over 30 fantasy points.
Just like Torrey Smith, Moore is a speedster who saw 39.7% of his passes travel at least 20 yards in the air. Of the 29 deep targets, 10 were catchable and 4 were taken for touchdowns. Moore caught all 10 deep passes deemed catchable. His 18.5 aDOT was also impressive and should continue with Carson Palmer at the helm.
Over Moore’s last four healthy games he averaged 15.2 PPG and six targets. His 1.83 YPRR put him at 31st among WRs,which is nice for a rookie speedster. At the end of the season Moore had a higher PPG, points per target (PPT), and PPS than teammate Darrius Heyward-Bey. If Moore is healthy, have no fear using him at a value pick in your lineup.
Mr. Davis may have been suspended four games for violating the league’s substance abuse policy last season, but he was well on his way to a fine fantasy season. His 1.93 YPRR ranked him third among tight ends with at least 60 targets, behind only the beastly Rob Gronkowski and Jimmy Graham.
Davis posted a +9.2 PFF passing grade and a 9.0 aDOT, which is sure to rise with Robert Griffin III behind center. Ten of Davis’ 84 targets were deep and caught all 4 that were catchable for 133 yards. He also averaged 13.5 yards per reception. His salary will be in the medium range, but he could quickly become RGIII’s favorite target. Davis will be one to keep an eye on. Even though he had Rex Grossman and John Beck as his quarterback, Davis posted seven games of at least ten fantasy points out of twelve games last year.
Gresham may have only graded at +3.7 as a receiver for the season, but he had a +5.8 PFF rating over the final seven games. This trend shows he is improving. Both A.J. Green and Andy Dalton’s development should improve Gresham’s stats from last year.
His 8.2 aDOT isn’t great, but he had at least 3 receptions in 13/14 games with a rookie quarterback. Gresham averaged 8.44 PPG as well — not a great number, but not bad. Generally it is better to grab an elite tight end for your lineup, but if Gresham has a favorable matchup it could be worth the savings spent in other positions.