Yesterday, TJ posted his All-Upside Team. He made great suggestions for players with high-upside potential this year. If you haven't read it, you should, but do so with caution.
You should also avoid the tendency to fill your bench with all upside guys. Roll the dice on one or two, but you need solid, steady, sometimes un-sexy-we'll call them "Vanilla"-players to get you through the grind of the NFL season. Why?
Let's say your bench if full of trendy rookies and high-upside breakouts. None of those guys are starting for you week one. So what do you do when one of your starters goes down with an injury? You have to drop one of your high-upside guys for a solid replacement. Invariably, it's the guy who pops in week five or six and goes on to become a fantasy stud. On someone else's team (Ask TJ about dropping Odell Beckham, Jr. last year before he got picked up by someone else, who ultimately ended up in the league championship).
If you have a solid bench with one or two high-upside guys, you won't face this dilemma early in the season. If there is a waiver wire wonder you want, you can take him while protecting your future breakouts.
My All Vanilla Team is made up of guys who aren't glamorous, provide excellent value, and produce consistently. Think of them as the Sears or J.C. Penny of fantasy football. Sure, you can shop at Bloomingdale's or Macy's, or the newest strip mall boutique, but what do you really get? One shirt or a pair of shoes? Name brand jeans that will be out of style next season? Why not fill your fantasy wardrobe with good, household names at great prices?
This is my All Vanilla Team:
QB - Carson Palmer (Ari)
Palmer's average draft position (ADP) as of August 30, 2015, according to ESPN's live ADP results, is 131.4. In a 12-team league, you can draft Palmer at the round 12-13 turn. When healthy (and his health is the key), Palmer is a top-12 quarterback, and he is being drafted as the 25th quarterback off the board. That is insane value. Palmer is the best QB value in the draft.
RB - Jonathan Stewart (Car)
A couple of years ago, I was offered Stewart in a trade for a stick of gum, and I refused. And I was right to do so. However, last year, a healthy J-Stew served up a main course of five plus yards per carry over the last three weeks of the season. Stewart was a sexy pick a few years ago, but, like fashion, he went out of style quickly. Now, again, like fashion, J-Stew is back in style. He could easily be a top-10 back, and he's being drafted as the 18th. You can't beat that.
RB - LaGarrette Blount (NE)
As the 29th running back off the board (73rd player over all), you'd think Blount was suspended for half the season. But Blount's one-game suspension will be served before the ice cream starts to melt in your bowl. And, as a starting NFL running back, his value is undeniable. And, as Belichick's boy, Blount will produce much more than his current RB3 draft position.
WR - Marques Colston (NO)
Graham is gone. So is Stills. Colston has been Brees' go-to guy for years, and he is currently going in the 9th round (the 40th receiver off the board). Yes, Cooks is probably Brees' new No. 1, but there will be plenty of balls to go around. You'd be crazy not to draft Colston.
WR - Eddie Royal (Chi)
Rookie wideout Kevin White is out indefinitely. Royal should be the beneficiary, and rumor has it that Cutler and Royal's chemistry, which began way back in Denver, has been rekindled. However, Royal's ADP is in the ignoble 13th round (134th overall). Drafting Royal there will yield a princely return.
Flex - Michael Crabtree (Oak)
I have a soft spot in my heart for Texas Tech alums. I'm surprised I didn't include Danny Amendola (NE) somewhere on this list, since I usually draft Amendola on my fantasy teams. However, I'm expecting a comeback from Crabtree (Amendola, too); and, as the number one wide receiver (at least for now) in an offense that will have to throw a lot, Crabtree should be a steal for your flex position in the 13th round.
TE - Kyle Rudolph
There is nothing sexy about sports hernia surgery, except maybe all of the rest that comes along with it. Norv Turner has a history of producing high-end tight ends, and a healthy Kyle Rudolph has a legitimate shot at becoming what he was expected to be two years ago. Considering that Rudolph is being drafted as the No. 16 tight end at the 12-13 round turn, you can rake him in without much risk.
The thing about vanilla is that it is good. It's classic. Vanilla is the perfect base for something special.
Draft the players on my All-Vanilla Team to turn your fantasy football team into something special.
3 Key Ingredients to Drafting a Winning Team:
- Draft a core of good starters,
- Add a solid bench of "vanilla" players, and
- Add add a few high-upside toppings to turn your team into something special.