Winning Your ESPN Fantasy Football League: Rounds 8-10
92nd overall pick: Jordan Cameron (TE, CLE)
My rank: 100th best player, 7th best tight end
ESPN rank: 96th best player, 6th best tight end
The soon-to-be 26-year-old Cameron led all tight ends (minimum 90 targets) in catch percentage and I don’t think it was a fluke. The overall quarterback play probably won’t decline from 2013 (Cleveland went through the season without a qualified quarterback ranking better than 34th in completion percentage … there are 32 teams in the NFL), and given Cameron’s 6’5” 245 pound frame, I like his odds of improving. Before Josh Gordon returned from suspension, Cameron hauled in 14 catches on 20 targets for 203 yards and a TD in two games. Before Gordon really got rolling (September), Cameron caught 30 passes on 43 targets for 360 yards and five scores in four games. So no, I’m not worried that defenses will be able to limit the big tight end if they don’t have to worry about the Browns’ only other top level talent. Cameron caught 80 passes last season for 917 yards and seven scores … and that includes four games with three or fewer catches (95 total yards in those contests).
101st overall pick: Jay Cutler (QB, CHI)
My rank: 50th best player, 6th best quarterback
ESPN rank: 119th best player, 15th best quarterback
If owners in your league have read my love for Cutler, then I would switch Cutler and Cameron, as the Bears signal caller is the more valuable asset in my opinion. I’ll spare you from yet another Cutler rant, but the argument is simple: His pass-catchers are elite, his running back can do it all, his offensive coordinator wants to put points on the board, and his defense isn’t going to keep opponents from scoring. The same thing that Bears fans hate is what makes Cutler a strong fantasy option: his willingness to make a mistake. Long touchdowns add up much faster than the occasional unexplainable pick in our fantasy world and getting a quarterback with this sort of upside after filling out the rest of your roster is exactly how you win a fantasy league in 2014.
116th overall pick: Shonn Greene (RB, TEN)
My rank: 97th best player, 34th best running back
ESPN rank: 105th best player, 43rd best running back
Players like Greene are exactly where fantasy football and actual football divide. I’m not sold on the fact that he is an NFL talent, but as a short-yardage back on a team without a proven RB1, he has decent fantasy value coming into 2014. Listen, Tennessee inked him to a three-year $10 million deal at the beginning of last season, so it stands to reason that they will give him more than his fair share to earn carries this season, if for no other reason than to get their money’s worth. The Titans drafted Bishop Sankey, a running back who has fantasy RB2 upside, and I think the long-term goal is for him to become a workhorse, but rookies rarely come in and assume such a role. Over his career, Greene (who will still be on the right side of 30 this season) has seen 13.7 percent of his carries come inside the red zone, a trend that allows him to be a fantasy asset without having a full workload or much talent. At this point in the draft, I’m essentially targeting a player that has a decent chance to find pay dirt should I be pressed into playing him, and Greene fits that mold as well as any running back outside the Top 100 overall players.
Quarterback: Jay Cutler (9th round pick, 101st overall player selected)
Running Back: Matt Forte (1st round pick, 4th overall player selected)
Running Back: C.J. Spiller (4th round pick, 44th overall player selected)
Wide Receiver: Alshon Jeffery (2nd round pick, 20th overall player selected)
Wide Receiver: Randall Cobb (3rd round pick, 29th overall player selected)
Wide Receiver: Michael Crabtree (5th round pick, 53rd overall player selected)
Tight End: Jordan Cameron (8th round pick, 92nd overall player selected)
Flex: Pierre Thomas (6th round pick, 68th overall player selected)
Bench: Fred Jackson (7th round pick, 77th overall player selected)
Bench: Shonn Greene (10th round pick, 116th overall player selected)